Fiscal Relations Across Levels of Government in the United States [E-Book] / Thomas Laubach
Laubach, Thomas.
Paris : OECD Publishing, 2005
53 p. ; 21 x 29.7cm.
englisch
10.1787/685856031230
OECD Economics Department Working Papers ; 462
Economics
United States
Full Text
This paper discusses the current state of fiscal relations between the federal, state and local governments in the United States and suggests directions for improvement. The significant degree of fiscal autonomy of the states and, to a lesser extent, of local governments has had several beneficial effects, including the responsiveness of public expenditure to local preferences and the comparatively high degree of accountability through the close link between revenue-raising powers and expenditure assignments. This link reflects traditionally weak support for redistribution across jurisdictions. Grants from the federal to sub-national governments are focused on achieving aims of an efficiency or paternalistic nature and are therefore all earmarked. Programme devolution to the states, notably in the welfare area, has been remarkably successful in fostering innovation in programme design, but the cost pressures in health care for the indigent are such that greater federal involvement might become necessary. The efficiency with which states raise revenues has been compromised by the erosion of their tax bases, notably for corporate income and sales taxes. Replacing these taxes with a less distorting form of indirect taxation could reverse this trend. Finally, state balanced budget requirements appear to have had salutary effects, but more extreme forms of fiscal rules have reduced state and local governments' ability to provide the desired level of public goods. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of the United States (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/us).