The Rise of a New Federalism: Federal-State Cooperation in the United States

By Jane Perry Clark | Go to book overview

SUMMARY

The result of the diversity in programs and objectives of the numerous grant-in-aid acts has been a free canvas for experimental painting in varying colors of federal relationship to state activity. As federal requirements are made, they begin to fall into certain well-defined, if irregular, patterns. First of all, the federal government makes certain financial demands of states desiring to participate in a cooperative program. If a state agrees, it submits plans (frequently made with federal consultation) for carrying out its end of the work, and either designates or establishes organizations to do the work. The federal government requires the state to report to it and to allow its auditors and inspectors to examine state accounts and investigate state work. Finally, a state may lose its funds if it does not continue to toe whatever federal mark has been set in a particular grant.

A flat grant, in which all states share like amounts of federal money, is inflexible and cannot take account of individual differences between states or situations. Its effective use is therefore apparently limited to fields like agricultural research, in which such factors as need or population and area are not the determining considerations in an equitable distribution. "The results of research are in no sense confined to state lines, but are likely to be valuable any place throughout the country where similar conditions obtain. The smallest states may be able to administer research to the same degree as the largest and with equal value from the national standpoint."124 In most cases, a flat grant is likely to be, in actual fact, discriminatory, since it is given as a kind of sop to Cerberus with no particular reason for the amount chosen save the general idea of promoting particular state activities. Nevertheless, in the eyes of many, any grant at all is "pure velvet" to a state. Today, because varying needs and abilities must be recognized, a flat grant is usually combined with a proportionate grant allocated on differing bases, and usually requiring state financial participation. For instance, each state receives a flat sum in agricultural extension work125 and an additional amount apportioned

____________________
124
Hearings before the Committee on Agriculture on H.R. 157, House of Representatives, 68th Cong., 1st Sess. ( 1924), p. 14.
125
Smith-Lever Act (1914), Sec. 3, $10,000 to each state; Capper-Ketcham Act of 1928, 45 Stat. 711, Sec. 1, $20,000 to each state.

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