Perceptions of Federal Aid Impacts on State Agencies: Patterns, Trends, and Variations Across the 20th Century
Posted: 18 Aug 2009
American federalism is a dynamic process involving the views and interactions among state and national officials. Based on multiple mail surveys of state agency heads across 75 years, this article traces the perspectives of state executives toward a core component of state–national relationships—federal aid. The time frame dates from the 1920s and covers a period in which federal aid programs to the states grew enormously, as did state administrative establishments. There was a long-term rise in the perceived intrusiveness of federal aid as well as increased policy distortion effects. Despite substantial fluctuations in perceived aid impacts, there was a four-decade consistency in the penetration of federal aid into and across the existing 3,000 state agencies. Furthermore, when perceptions of national influence are combined in an index of perceived national fiscal influence, there was a roller coaster effect with an overall secular “decline” in national influence since 1974.
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