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May 29, 2003

So Much For Local Control

Republicans talk about local control and decentralization, but what they really mean is funding state governments, often controlled by rural and suburban interests, at the expense of urban areas. Most federal programs hand out money in grants to urban areas directly, so so-called "block grants" are not really about decentralization but just handing more control of the money to state governments versus urban areas looking for a share of the funds.

Just take the recent tax bill with its $20 billion in aid to states and cities. A number of legislators wanted to allocate funds for cash-strapped cities like New York City, but the GOP demanded that no money go directly to those urban areas. Instead, it goes to the state governments and local cities are left going hat-in-hand to more central authorities -- supposedly the kind of centralization Republicans are opposed to.

In a move that seemed intended to satisfy objections by Republicans in the House, negotiators changed language that would have set aside $4 billion in aid to be given directly to localities. Instead, the final bill gives state governments the authority to award the aid as they see fit.

"The local aid part was changed so that it all went to the states, and the states had the option to share it," said New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat and original backer of the aid proposal. "I opposed that change."

Hey, but who cares what New York City needs. It's not like we fought a war in the name of avenging the devastation to the city.

Posted by Nathan at May 29, 2003 07:11 AM