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The State-Local Fiscal Relationship in California: A Changing Balance of Power

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Abstract:

Friction between California’s state and local governments has shaped fiscal policy and conflicts throughout the century. In The State-Local Fiscal Relationship in California: A Changing Balance of Power, J. Fred Silva and Elisa Barbour place such conflicts in a useful historical context. In particular, they explain why the divergent histories of city and county government have magnified the consequences of Proposition 13. After tracing shifts in city and county fiscal structures, they also examine current proposals to balance state and local fiscal power. The authors conclude that California public finance reflects neither the potential benefits of state-run system nor those of a decentralized system. Instead, it copes with fiscal stress through cost-shifting and competition between levels of government.