Washington Post: Why States Should Meddle in Their Cities’ Business
In the national conversation about Detroit we’ve been having since last Thursday, one line of questioning keeps coming up: Aren’t other cities facing this kind of problem? And what can they do to head off disaster?
The answer is twofold: Sure, no city has a situation quite so dire or as large in magnitude as Detroit’s, but cities in general have faced towering pension obligations, shifting industrial bases, and financial mismanagement throughout American history. And as a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts outlines, state governments have been able to either prevent catastrophe or step in when it arrives.
That’s been a pretty successful model. But Pew’s staff warn that it’s not necessarily for everyone–they found no significant correlation between interventionist state governments and better metro performance. Instead, the authors emphasize a few specific ways in which states can keep their cities and towns away from doom: Keep an eye on their financial situations, and offer technical assistance to help mayors and city councils understand what they’re getting into. Help them budget over longer periods of time, rather than just year by fiscal year. And strategically intervene with state-backed bonds–or more forceful oversight–if they end up in real trouble.
Read the full article at WashingtonPost.com.
- States' Fiscal Health