Saving Federalism: How Federal Policy Affects Missouri’s Spending

Federalism: the distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.

Powers Not Delegated

As the Bill of Rights famously states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The founding fathers understood that government is more accountable, efficient, and responsive when it is closer to the people. But as time as passed, the federal government has centralized more and more decision-making in Washington D.C., shifting further and further away from the nation’s founding principles.

The State of Federalism in Missouri                                     

Over the past decade, Missouri has become increasingly reliant on federal funds, and this reliance has contributed to a rapidly growing state budget while also significantly reducing state spending flexibility. The federal government primarily exercises its power over state policy through what are called grants-in-aid. These grants are transfers of money from the federal government to state or local governments to fund specific projects or programs. Upon accepting the federal funds, which are not loans and do not have to be repaid, state or local governments agree to spend the funds according to guidelines established by the federal government.