for welfare programs? Should health care be rationed? Are some prison fees double jeopardy? Should metropolitan areas be required to provide "fair share" housing? Should a child's opportunities in life be tied to his or her family's wealth? When, and for what, are enforceable statewide standards necessary? What is the core business of government?
The "big questions" of state-local relations involve who should do what, when, where, why, and how. These remain highly contentious. Party is pitted against party, government level against government level, program against program, and so forth. The future of state-local interaction is uncertain. Government is in a long-term trend toward more professionalization and more democracy, although it is trusted less by citizens ( Cigler 1990). Much of what will happen in the future is driven by demographics and commitments made previously ( Social Security and Medicare are important examples). The reshaping of governments' structures, systems, and processes leads to yet untested relationships with the private sector and uncertain outcomes as far as equity and equality of opportunity are concerned. Regional- or metropolitan-level structures and processes--where most local problems occur and must be handled--are in their infancy ( Downs 1996). State-local relations will likely not achieve the success demanded until the window of regional opportunity is fully open.