Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reagan Has Left Permanent Stamp on Levels of Government

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reagan Has Left Permanent Stamp on Levels of Government

Article excerpt

A federally-financed nonpartisan research agency commissioned to look at intergovernmental relations seems to be acknowledging that President Reagan has left his permanent stamp on the "levels of government."

In these schemata, the federal government is, rather was, supreme. But the long-standing idea of levels of government is fading, reports the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. A spokesman for the agency says the structure has been replaced by a "fend-for-yourself" system in which states, cities, and counties scramble to build their own economies by using the remnants of the big federal programs once viewed as popular and appealing.

Moreover, the shift may be deeper and more permanent than most observers had thought. Clearly, the Reagan Administration has introduced substantial changes in domestic government.

Not only have states and cities felt the effects of deep budget cuts, they may be equally affected by a national economy propelled by manufacturing to an international economy resting on services and new technology. Add to that a sharply rising national debt which demands more and more borrowing and the reasons for a radical and fundamental shift become more obvious.

John Kincaid, director of research for the commission, says state and local governments always in the past turned to the federal government for relief from economic distress.

"But now the U.S. economy is no longer able, even if willing, to bail out states and localities in every instance," he adds. "The national economy and its state and local economies must all compete against powerful foreign economic forces."

Each state, each locality, now stands virtually alone in the drive to build separate economies. Today, the researchers say, states and localities need much more than a favorable tax base to augment acceptable physical structures - roads, water, and sewer systems.

Essential in the post-Reagan era, they say, is a better educated population than ever before. It's unlikely that a steady stream of high school dropouts will be absorbed in factory jobs. And the states also will discover - indeed, some already have - that housing and environmental protection can't be regarded as luxuries. …

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