New York Constitution of 1846
Looking to spur economic growth and opportunity, many states financed large-scale infrastructure projects. New York’s Erie Canal, completed in 1825, was the most famous and successful example of these “internal improvement” measures, the costs of which could burden taxpayers for decades. By 1846, New Yorkers had grown so worried about their state’s debt that they wrote a new constitution preventing their legislature from authorizing any project that could not be paid off within 18 years. Even proposals that met these criteria still required approval by voters at the next general election.