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

By Jane Perry Clark | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
State Relations to Federal Grants-in-Aid

GRANTS-IN-AID from the federal government to the states may be said to be fluids into which federal funds and requirements are poured with one hand while the other pours in state participation and activity. The proportions, which vary with different grants, depend on a number of elements, such as the nature of the particular services to be rendered, the kinds of work done, the development of services in the cooperating states, and the policies of federal and state organizations. Nevertheless, no matter what the proportions, both federal and state participation are essential in the grant-in-aid mixture.

To change the metaphor--it may be said that the machinery of both participating governments must be oiled and set in motion before a program gets under way. The two mechanisms are obviously timed differently, so that one aspect of a program must wait on the other, especially when a grant-in-aid is on its way for the first time. Federal law may therefore indicate a willingness to mark time until state machinery is properly geared and set in motion, or until state difficulties are remedied. This is particularly important when a program must move forward with a certain uniformity throughout the country as a whole. For example, the Soil Conservation Act of 1936 allows the federal government to fly in the face of the Supreme Court decision forbidding contracts to be made between farmers and the federal government, but to do so only temporarily, during a period necessary "to afford reasonable opportunity for legislative action by a sufficient number of States"1 to insure the validity of the program as a whole.

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1
Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936. Sec. 8 (a). The "reasonable opportunity" must not extend beyond January 1, 1942, by authority of the amendment of June 28, 1937 (Pub. No. 170, 75th Cong.). Thus, although by July 30, 1937, fifteen states, one territory, and one possession had passed legislation designed to form a basis for state cooperation, no grant for administration of these plans had yet been made.-- Letter from the Agricultural Adjustment Administrator, July 30, 1937. See below, pp. 288-89.

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