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Unformatted text preview: Chapter Eighteen State and Local Politics: Maintaining Our Differences Chapter Outline I. The Structure of State Government A. The State Constitutions B. Branches of Government 1. The Executive Branch 2. The Legislature 3. The Courts C. Citizen Politics: Elections, Parties, and Interest Groups 1. Election Participation 2. Party Competition 3. Group Competition II. The Structure of Local Government A. Types of Local Government 1. County Government 2. Municipal Government 3. Towns and Townships 4. School Districts 5. Special Districts and Metropolitan Government B. Local Elections and Participation III. State and Local Finance A. Sources of State Revenue B. Sources of Local Revenue IV. State and Local Policy A. Policy Priorities B. Public Policy Patterns 1. Education 2. Welfare Assistance 3. Highways 4. Police and Prisons 5. Homeland Security 6. The Environment 7. Civil Rights and Liberties V. The Great Balancing Act: Localism in a Large Nation Chapter Summary Although developments in the twentieth century have narrowed the differences among the American states, theyand the localities that govern under their authorityremain distinctive and vital systems of government. All states apply the constitutional principle of separate branches sharing power, but the structure of the state governments differs in some respects from that of the federal government. An SG 18 | 1 example is the more widespread use of elections at the state level. Most states elect their judges by popular vote and a number of executives, including an attorney general and treasurer in addition to a governor. Through the initiative or the referendum, nearly all states also allow their residents to vote directly on policy issues. Local governments are chartered by the state. They are not sovereign governments, but most states have chosen to grant local units a considerable level of policymaking discretion. Local governments include counties, municipalities, school districts, and special districts. Of these, the independent school district is the most distinctively American institution. The municipality is the primary governing unit. Municipalities are governed by one of four types of systems: the strong mayor-council system, the weak mayor-council system, the commission system, or the city manager system. The states and localities have primary responsibility for most of the public policies that directly touch Americans daily lives. For example, the major share of legislation devoted to public education and more than 90 percent of the funding for it is provided by the states and localities. Public welfare, public health, roads, and police are other policy areas dominated by these sub- national governments. They do not, however, have the amount of revenue that is available to the federal government. Competition between the states and localities holds down their taxing capacity. Their policies are also conditioned by the wealth of the state or locality and by the structure of its party and interest-group systems. The main points of this chapter are as follows:structure of its party and interest-group systems....
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