• State and local governments are directly involved in our daily lives.
• The story of states and localities over the past two decades has been one of transformation. They have shed their backward ways, reformed their institutions, and emerged as capable and proactive.
• State resurgence is exemplified in improved revenue systems, the expanded scope of state operations, faster diffusion of innovations, more interjurisdictional cooperation, and increased national–state conflict.
• Several persistent challenges dog states and localities: fiscal stress, interjurisdictional competition, and political corruption.
• The United States is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. The increase in population in Sunbelt states such as Nevada and Arizona outpaces the rest of the nation. Meanwhile, negative growth characterized North Dakota and Louisiana from 2000 to 2008.
• An outbreak of culture wars is redefining the politics of some communities and states.
• As a whole, the states are diverse, competitive, and resilient. Their increased capacity to govern effectively has been sorely tested in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
U.S. federalism is an ongoing experiment in governance.
• A fundamental question is, what is the proper balance of power and responsibility between the national government and the states?
• Actions of the courts, Congress, and the executive branch have expanded powers of the national government.
• Over time, the trend has generally been in the direction of a stronger national government. Beginning in the early 1980s, however, there was a resurgence of the state and local governments as political and policy actors.
• The power relationships among the three levels of government are described by various models, including dual and cooperative relationships among the three levels of government.
federalism. The operative model is cooperative federalism, under the variant known as new federalism.
A key concept in federalism is intergovernmental relations, particularly financial relationships among the three levels of government.
• The national government imposes certain controversial requirements on grants-in aid, including mandates and pre-emptions.
The executive branch of the government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land. The president, vice president, department heads (cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies carry out this mission. •Judicial Branch
Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws and how they are applied. They also decide if laws violate the Constitution—this is known as judicial review, and it is how federal courts provide checks and balances on the legislative and executive branches. •Legislative Branch
Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative or law making branch of government. It has a two-branch Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—and agencies that support Congress.