Cities Can't Do Much Alone

MLewyn's picture

I am about halfway through the Metropolitan Revolution (by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley) and I can't help wondering: how much good can a city do?  Of course, quite a bit- but only with a friendly (or at least non-hostile) state government.  There are many, many things a state government can do to sabotage a city.  For example, a state can:

*build a highway through the city's downtown, thus turning potentially revenue-generating land into a sewer for commuters;

*build a highway in the suburbs, taking people and jobs away from the city;

*pass legislation limiting the city's taxing powers, thus making the city government broke;

*pass legislation giving municipal unions more power, also forcing the city to spend more; and

*dictate the details of municipal land use regulation.

In short, cities are legal creatures of the states. 


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