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The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States is an important new series that reflects a renewed international interest in constitutional history and provides expert insight into each of the 50 state constitutions. Each volume in this innovative series contains a historical overview of the state's constitutional development, a section-by-section analysis of its current constitution, and a comprehensive guide to further research.

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Book Description Oxford University Press, Condition: New. Never used!. The United States is a very large country, and when the national government levies taxes, particularly on income, it treats each citizen in the country equally, regardless of where they live. As a closing note: one of the most consequential political developments in American history has been the legal restrictions citizens have placed on state and local governments for amassing public debt.

It was routine in the s for cities, in particular, to go bankrupt. At the turn of the 20th century, state governments limited the ability of municipalities to run annual deficits, but, with time, states began to spend more than they took in.

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  4. Through ballot initiatives and legislative action, citizens enacted state-constitutional amendments that required balanced budgets for their governments. As such, the U. These restrictions further complicate the way states and localities fund themselves, especially during hard times. Debt restrictions and high elasticity create a peculiar circumstance, and often increase state and local demand for intergovernmental transfers.

    Following the recession, which depressed home prices decreasing local property tax revenues and slowed consumer spending decreasing state sales tax revenues , the federal government had to increase its own debt levels in order to finance state and local government services. The complex arrangement of varying tax sources, rates, and redistribution is the hallmark of a federal system that empowers multiple governments to act simultaneously within the same political jurisdiction.

    Constitutionalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    In the next essay, we will look more closely at the argument for why federalism — and independent budgetary authority — creates a more robust system of public finance, even if it appears to be more complicated and unwieldly. All dollar amounts are pegged to their corresponding calendar year, and are not seasonally adjusted. Last accessed, April 11, Giving or Getting? State University of New York. Americans, after all, pay taxes to not just one national government, but to at least two additional ones as well: their state and locality.

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    8. Paradoxically though, the framers of the U. Constitution believed that by establishing a system of multiple governments with independent taxing authority, the total tax burden placed on citizens would be less than it would be if one gargantuan government existed. For anyone that has ever filed your own taxes, you know that it is highly technical and subject to precise calculations, lengthy procedure, and numerous exemptions. Understanding that variation in all of its complexity is the first step towards evaluating how federalism, despite creating many governments, can actually reduce the total tax burden placed on the American taxpayer.

      Local governments receive about Municipal corporations were the leading provider of government services, establishing school systems, transportation networks, and welfare assistance before the states and national government.

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      Much of this system remains and over time, additional types of local government emerged, each with their own taxing and spending authority; unincorporated county-governments, consolidated government units, and independent school districts — like towns and cities — all collect revenues to operate. Remarkably, taxes account for just two-thirds of all revenues local governments raise. Localities amass considerable sums by charging fees on the use of hospitals, sewers, harbors, and airports.

      Some even rake in a small amount through the sale of school lunches. Many Americans might also live in local, special-purpose districts, which are established for specific functions, and which have separate budgetary powers. By far, the largest source of tax revenue for local governments, nationwide, is the property tax, which accounts for nearly half of all money local governments raise. But some local governments also take in money by taxing personal income and through localized sales taxes, especially on food and alcohol sold in restaurants.

      Local governments derive such a significantly high percentage of their revenues from property taxes largely because of historical circumstance they were the easiest to assess and collect , but also because they are pegged to the relative cost of living in any one, localized political jurisdiction.

      State Constitutions of the United States

      For instance, the rate set by the city of Boston might make sense for a densely populated, urban community where people make high incomes, property values are high, and citizens expect expensive government services. That same rate, however, might bankrupt the small family farmer in Western, Massachusetts, who owns considerably more land, and expects much less from government. State governments rely on all the same techniques as do local governments, including property taxes on possessions such as automobiles, and usage fees on services, such as parks and highways tolls.

      However, there is much more variation between the states in how government finances itself. Sales taxes account for nearly half of all tax revenue raised by states. However, that percentage varies drastically. Some states, such as New Hampshire and Montana, do not have a general sales tax although both states charges sales tax on specific goods such as food and lodging. Like the sales tax, these rates vary, and often move in relation to the state sales tax. For instance, Maine levies a 7.

      This variation is important, and represents a healthy federal system. Property taxes paid on vacation homes, gasoline taxes paid by visiting motorists, and purchases made by tourists are all examples of how state governments get money from non-residents. The difference between taxing property, sales, and income is also reflective of underlying political beliefs. Although not pegged to income, individuals with lower incomes, on average, pay a higher proportion of their annual income in sales taxes than do individuals with higher incomes.

      Importantly, the determination to impose one type of tax over another is not a technical or objective calculation: it is the result of competing ideas about fairness, and varied expectations for government spending, which federalism encourages. Davis,, M. Early in its history the U. Congress set up an orderly way for western lands to become states with status equal to the Original Thirteen. One of the most important acts that Congress passed was the Northwest Ordinance of that set up a system of government for the territory north of the Ohio River that became the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

      It was a model for other U. Because this area was beyond the borders of the original 13 states, it became the responsibility of the federal government. The Trans-Appalachian was small but rapidly growing. It needed a way to deal with Native American populations and a defense against British threats to the north and Spanish ones from the south.

      Congress knew that the settlers would eventually need much more local government. In , the United States more than doubled its original size with the purchase from France of all the lands drained by the western tributaries of the Mississippi River, the Louisiana Purchase.

      Settlement in the region would wait until Native American titles to an area were removed and the land was surveyed in preparation for sale to private owners. Nevertheless, before pioneers crossing onto the western prairies ever decided to move west, they knew 1 they would one day have the full rights of citizens living in the East, and 2 what the steps necessary to attain full statehood were. Congress established a formula for promoting self-governance in the western land in stages. Until the population of an area reached 5, voters, the region was a district.

      At this time, only free white males were voters. A district was governed by a governor and three judges appointed by the President. When the population reached 5, the settlers could elect their own legislature. The area was called a territory.

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      The governor, however, was still appointed, not elected by the voters. The territory could also elect a representative to Congress who could speak on issues in Congress but had no vote. When the population reached 60, the territory could apply for full statehood. In the land that would become Iowa was attached to the Michigan Territory. In as Michigan prepared for its own admission as a state, Iowa was transferred to the Wisconsin Territory. With more and more settlers crossing the Mississippi River, a separate Iowa Territory was formed on July 4, Its boundaries stretched far north of the current border into Minnesota and the Dakotas.

      Because the population had already reached 22,, the settlers had the right to elect their own legislature. Burlington became the first capital.


      The territorial capital was moved to Iowa City. While both Lucas and Chambers urged Iowans to push for full statehood, many settlers were in no hurry. As long as Iowa was a territory, the federal government paid the costs of much of the government.