New Federal-Municipal Relationships

March 26, 1936

Report Outline
The Central Government, and the Local Governments
Evolution of Federal Aid to Cities in Relief
Federal-Municipal Public Works Programs
New Deal Encouragement to Municipal Ownership
Federal Atd in Housing and Highway Programs
Federal Aid to Cities in Field of Finance

The Central Government, and the Local Governments

New Fedral-City Lines of Communications and Supply

In The Field of government, one of the most significant results of the depression has been the development of new and close relationships between American municipalities and the central government. Traditionally, American cities have been considered “creatures of the states,” having no important connections with the government at Washington. But since 1932, and especially under the Roosevelt administration, the cities have come into direct and intimate contact with the federal government.

There can be no denial [says Paul V. Betters, executive director of the United States Conference of Mayors] that a new pattern of city-federal relations has been woven before our eyes in the past several years. The old charts and diagrams of American government that hung in political science class rooms prior to 1932 have had to be filled in with brand new lines of communication and supply running directly from the federal government to the municipalities.

Beginning with the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, passed by Congress during the closing months of the Hoover administration, federal legislation and administrative policies have had profound and continuing influences upon municipal policies in the fields of relief, public works, regulation and operation of utilities, housing, credit and finance. Some of the changes in federal-municipal relationships, C. C. Ludwig, secretary of the League of Minnesota Municipalities, points out, have taken place “through the stretching of laws and in spite of the restrictions of constitutional provisions which apparently did not contemplate a strong federal-state exercising a large federal police power and a substantial control over our economic system.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Economic Crises
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations