There is no use denying the fact that government is the phenomenon, which regulates the life of society and serves as the barrier which restrains chaos and anarchy. Moreover, the government provides a great number of different services, which are vital for the existence of a state and its population. Thus, peculiarities of the functioning of this apparatus suppose a certain distribution of functions between different institutions as in another case the existence of the government would be impossible. In the USA, this mechanism was rather traditional, however now “the nation is experiencing a transition as state governments take back some of the responsibilities that the federal government” (Critical Issues in State-Local Fiscal Policy, Part 1:Sorting out State and Local Responsibilities, n.d., para.1).
The process of changing the traditional distribution of duties between the state and local governments is called sorting out. There are two critical issues connected with this very process. The first one is “which level of government should finance services” (Critical Issues in State-Local Fiscal Policy, Part 1:Sorting out State and Local Responsibilities, n.d., para. 2) and the second one is “which level of government should deliver those services” (Critical Issues in State-Local Fiscal Policy, Part 1:Sorting out State and Local Responsibilities, n.d., para. 3). Resting on these two questions, it is possible to assume that the traditional model does not satisfy existing demands anymore. That is why the main aim of sorting out is to determine what model will be the most efficient under modern conditions. On the other hand, it can also be taken as the attempt of the state to get rid of some duties which seem unnecessary for it. That is why this process is rather complicated.
It should be said that traditionally the state was responsible for the majority of the most important services which were provided for the population. However, due to the peculiarities of state structure, some of the services were given to local governments. This pattern of distribution has its advantages and disadvantages. It could efficiently distribute funds and give support to those people who need it most of all. However, at the same time, it could be difficult for the local budget to finance these services. Under these conditions, the idea to give responsibility for some services to the state seems a good idea. That is why a sort of dilemma appears because both these actors have their own point of view on the given issue.
The thing is that “policymakers first need to decide whether the government should have a role in providing a service” (Critical Issues in State-Local Fiscal Policy, Part 1:Sorting out State and Local Responsibilities, n.d., para. 17). However, very often, people who are responsible for this issue are not fair, and the decision can be made because of some hidden interests and motifs. Under these conditions, a great number of problems can appear. Being offended by the unfair distribution of responsibilities, local governments could not agree with this decision underlining the fact that the state should take care of the prosperity and life of its citizens, and some services are vital for it.
With this in mind, having analyzed all information connected with the given issue, it is possible to make a certain conclusion. It should be said that the current process in society, which is called sorting out, is rather ambivalent and introduces a great number of questions for discussion. The thing is that the attempt to distribute duties and responsibilities between the state and local governments will often be complicated because of the ambivalent character of the issue. Each side tries to suggest the decision, which is the most convenient for it, and it leads to the appearance of a great dilemma.