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Our nation’s local elected leaders work tirelessly every day to reflect their city’s values and represent community members. These leaders represent the level of government closest to the people they govern, and they focus on the critical issues that matter to the people of this great nation. In this updated 2018 edition of City Rights in an Era of Preemption we are continuing to observe aggressive moves by state legislatures nationwide to usurp local authority. Ultimately, people who live in cities want control over their own destinies. But when states seek blanket policies that run counter to the values of its cities, local leaders do not stand down.
Local governments provide over 95% of the total funding for U.S. water infrastructure. To meet the nation’s growing water infrastructure needs, address the impacts of climate change on water quality and availability, and to ensure equity and affordability for low- and fixed-income ratepayers, the federal government should partner with local governments to repair and replace the United States’ water delivery and treatment systems. This report lists actions the federal government must take, including continuing programs such as the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and WIFIA, providing grants to local governments for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater management, allowing longer permit terms for pollution discharge permits, and more.
Based on a review of the most advanced city efforts to align education for young children from birth through third grade, the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) identified 10 common elements of effective systems alignment. This report contains case studies of local efforts in Boston, Hartford, San Antonio, San Jose and Seattle that provide examples of how cities are incorporating each of the following elements into their alignment strategies.
Economic development is the process of building strong, adaptive economies. Strategies driven by local assets and realities, a diverse industry base and a commitment to equality of opportunity and sustainable practices have emerged as those that will ensure a strong foundation for long-term stability and growth. Even within the parameters of these principles, what constitutes success in economic development and the specific strategies to accomplish it will look different from place to place. Despite these differences, leadership is consistently identified as a critical factor in effective economic development. Dedicated leadership is needed to raise awareness, help develop and communicate a common vision, and motivate stakeholders into action. Although leadership can come from many places within the community, local elected officials are particularly well-positioned to take on this role. The political influence of elected leadership is critical to helping communities stay the course toward a vibrant economic future. From the bully pulpit to the design and coordination of public policies, mayors and councilmembers have opportunities every day to effect change and promote a strategic vision of economic growth for their community.
Sustainability is a fundamental component of building a strong community, not only in terms of the physical environment, but also for economic prosperity. Although the nexus between sustainability and economic development may not always be apparent and will certainly vary from place to place, local officials across the country are providing leadership and advancing economic strategies that incorporate environmental stewardship. In addition to a healthier environment for citizens, the benefits of greener economic development include cost savings through effective and efficient use of resources, less reliance on unsustainable energy sources and new jobs and economic investment. This guide highlights the sustainability efforts of four cities, Denver, Boston, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Grand Rapids, Mich., used to spur economic growth and the strategies they are pursuing.
America's current economic crisis is not only a national crisis. It is also a metropolitan crisis, and it will soon become a local government fiscal crisis. Coping with the worst economic downturn in 50 years, U.S. cities face sizable budget shortfalls for 2009 that are expected to grow much more severe and widespread in 2010 and 2011. With the pace of recovery still sluggish, local government budget tightening and spending cuts over the next two years could well impose a significant drag on the nation's economic performance just as the extraordinary interventions of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) trail off. It could be that a deepening local government fiscal crisis - less remarked upon than the one challenging state governments - could hobble the nation's incipient recovery with several years of layoffs, cancelled contracts with vendors, and reduced services. This report surveys the current state of U.S. cities' finances, reviews city leaders' responses to those conditions, and places these developments in the context of efforts aimed at securing the nation's recovery from the current severe slump.