August 22, 2014

Washington’s Fiscal Crisis Could Leave State and Local Governments Struggling

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

State and local governments face severe financial challenges that include slower economic growth, lagging tax revenues and rising health care costs and retirement benefits. But relying on more assistance from the federal government is not a viable option, according to Sara Imhof, Midwest regional director for The Concord Coalition, and Mark O’Connell, executive director of the Wisconsin Counties Association.

In an op-ed Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Imhof and O’Connell point out that the federal government’s budget problems will require tough choices on taxes, Social Security, national defense and health care. The looming fiscal crisis, they warn, could dramatically affect state and local governments. Those governments could face increased public demands in road construction, law enforcement or health care programs, for example, if federal funding in those areas is cut.

Part of the answer, according to Imhof and O’Connell: “Communication and cooperation among the federal, state and local officials and citizens increasingly will be important as policy decisions become tougher and budgets become tighter.”