Evolving State-Local Relations

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.

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About the Author
Joseph F. Zimmerman is a professor of political science at Rockefeller College of the State University of New York at Albany. He is the author of more than 25 books and articles published in more than three dozen journals and periodicals.

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