This course explores the role of U.S. urban governments in the economy, their relationship to the state and federal governments, and the institutional parameters of devising and implementing sound public policy. Both the sources and uses of funds will be considered in the context of different tax instruments, the relative merit of each tool and the implications for equity and efficiency of public policy.
The course is focused on the analysis of policy issues in the financing of public services in urban areas. The analysis and readings will be based on actual examples and extant financing practices, including, but not limited to, New York City, Puerto Rico, Detroit, and Illinois. The course will attempt to draw the connections between equity and efficiency in resource allocation in the American political climate. The course will begin with a review of the setting within which urban fiscal problems must be resolved: the unique nature of public services in urban areas, the complex networks of interest groups and layers of various levels of government. The course will also address the various ways urban governments in metropolitan areas raise funds to meet a multitude of demands and the implications for equity and efficiency.
All of this will be done in the context of the current public policy debates facing urban governments today.