Q&A – How Much Government Influences Our Lives Locally vs. Federally?

Today’s entry: Brian, are there any specific facts you can point to which support the logic in your point about the influence of local government being most important?

Bottom Line: This question derives from my central theme of 2020. Every election has consequences and it’s often those closest to you which have the biggest impact on your daily life. It’s a saying I coined twenty or so years ago and have used ever since, however, the logic behind it as you’ve cited, has been as evident as ever throughout the course of this year. From lockdown policies to election processes, 2020 has been the quintessential year for the importance of local elections to be on full display. Yet, local-only races average fewer than 20% of eligible voters voting, compared to 75% plus for Presidential elections. That being said, you asked for stats that back up the logic, I can assist with that.

There are several ways to attempt to illustrate the point. The first would be to simply compare how many laws and regulations there are at the federal, state, and local levels. The problem with this is that even the federal government’s GAO can’t provide a full list of in force laws. Over the years, thousands of laws have become obsolete but remain on the books. Others just aren’t enforced or enforceable. So that’s not the best way. Instead, looking at funding provides the most objective insight. A Brookings Institute studyof total government spending is one of the most objective ways of viewing the real influence of federal vs. state and local governments. According to their findings, by the time federal funds are fully allocated, 19.8% are federal and 80.2% are state and/or local.

In hard money terms, our state and local governments have four times the influence of the federal government. We certainly don’t view our mayors and governor as being four times as influential as the President of the United States, but from a point of practical application of governance, that’s actually the case. A separate studyfrom the Urban Institute illustrates that local governments control more spending than state governments. According to their findings, the state has 48.4% and locals have 51.6%.

This all literally illustrates my point factually. Local governments are involved in more spending/active governance than the state which is more actively involved than the federal government. So yes, if you’re a disillusioned Trump supporter in Florida, you can take heart in Florida’s Republicans having had their best election cycle in history this November, with the most elected Republicans top to bottom in the state of Florida in our history come January. 

Submit your questions using one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Photo by: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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