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American federalism demonstrated remarkable continuity and responsiveness throughout the horrific events associated with the 2000 presidential election and the terrorist attacks of 2001. Yet, the contemporary era has also been one of coercive or regulatory federalism, marked by historically unprecedented levels of federal preemptions, mandates, conditions of aid and other extensions of federal power into state affairs. The U.S. Supreme Court has pursued a countervailing state-friendly federalism jurisprudence since 1991, but in the political realm, there is substantial bipartisan and even intergovernmental support for coercive or regulatory federalism.

This essay describes some recent patterns of state financial activity – how the state governments obtain their revenues, the types of activities on which they expend their resources, their reliance on economic resources such as borrowing and the state of their financial assets. The analysis relies primarily on data from U.S. Census Bureau surveys of state and local government finances, the most complete set of comparative information available. It is primarily a retrospective look, using the information for fiscal year 2000 and comparing that with trends from prior years. The final section looks at a few present-day issues and prospects for state finances.

This article describes the division of political powers between state and local governments, the emergence of innovative state programs assisting substate governments, state initiatives to improve the coordination and effectiveness of state and local government service-delivery and regulatory programs, and the desirability of broadening the powers of general-purpose local governments to allow them to achieve their goals in the most economical, efficient and effective manner.

The fact that most governmental services in the United States are provided directly to citizens by local governments is testimony to their importance. Nevertheless, these substate units, although they may be termed “home-rule” municipalities, are not autonomous. In all states, local governments are subject to various controls by their respective state governments, including costly state mandates, which are the principal irritant in state-local relations in a significant number of states.

Chapter 7 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

This article examines recent developments involving a sample of interstate compacts and formal interstate administrative agreements, the purpose of which is to promote harmonious relations between sister states by resolving disputes and encouraging interstate cooperation.

 

The demand for e-government services – that is, the delivery of government services through the Internet – continues to increase as citizens and businesses spend more and more time online. There is the expectation that e-government will make government institutions more efficient, accountable and accessible to the public. The states have made significant progress toward these ends as many government services and associated transactions may now be fully executed over the Internet. States are moving further in the development of e-government as services and their related agencies are integrated with one another, a trend which will likely have a tremendous impact on the structure of state government in the near future.

Chapter 2 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

For too long, too little attention has been paid to the administrative arena of state government. This article examines recent trends and emerging issues in the scope, size and structure of state administration and the status and skills of administrators. The authors analyze data collected as part of the American State Administrators Project to identify trends in the personal and educational attributes and career paths of top-level state administrators.

Legislatures are the engines of representative democracy in the American states. They are the arenas in which the processes for choosing policies, setting priorities and reaching settlements among conflicting values and interests take place. This essay points out trends and directions in which state legislatures are moving, the significant issues confronting them and offers a framework for thinking about the current condition of state legislatures.

The most innovative and productive state agencies do not simply execute one good program. Rather, they integrate advanced management techniques into a comprehensive approach to productivity improvement. Productive state-government agencies stress multiple measures: internal capacities, outputs produced and outcomes achieved. They use performance measurement and evaluation to help establish goals and measure results, estimate and justify resource requirements, reallocate resources, develop organization-improvement strategies and motivate employees to improve performance.

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