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Comparing the Chinese and U.S. Systems of Local Government Shui-Yan Tang Sol Price School of Public Policy University of Southern California.

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Presentation on theme: "Comparing the Chinese and U.S. Systems of Local Government Shui-Yan Tang Sol Price School of Public Policy University of Southern California."— Presentation transcript:

1 Comparing the Chinese and U.S. Systems of Local Government Shui-Yan Tang Sol Price School of Public Policy University of Southern California

2 China A unified personnel administrative system: a key motivation for top local officials is to move up the levels of government; one can attain a higher administrative rank only by moving up to a higher level of government; vertical more than horizontal accountability; a similar system in traditional China; exception: Han Dynasty 漢朝 was known in Chinese history as having a strong local government system; local officials were accorded high status (heads of prefectures have an equivalent rank as central ministers 郡太守与九卿都是二千石的官 ). U.S. Local government officials are selected locally; the council-manager form: the council is democratically elected, and the chief administrative officer (e.g., city manager) is usually appointed based on professional qualifications; the position of mayor (its powers and responsibilities vary across different jurisdictions); many local government officials are paid higher than those in the state and national governments; horizontal more than vertical accountability; professional administrators advance their career by building a strong professional reputation, and many advance their career by taking jobs in progressively larger local jurisdictions.

3 China Higher-level governments set hard performance targets on lower-level officials: e.g., GPD growth; limiting numbers of citizen petitions/demonstrations; environmental protection. U.S. Higher-level governments do not evaluate lower–level government officials, but they do have the power to investigate possible illegal activities, and sanction local governments for failure to uphold state and federal laws. (Some low-income cities may be poorly managed.)

4 China Higher-level governments have final authority to assign whatever responsibilities to lower-level governments; incentives for each level to push responsibilities, but not necessarily financial resources, down to lower levels; lower-level governments are more financially strapped (especially at the township and village level). U.S. Each level has a stable set of responsibilities: cities (public safety, public utilities, transportation, waste disposal, community development, culture and leisure);counties (public assistance, public protection, health and sanitation, transportation); state (health and human services, K-2 education funding, transportation, higher education, corrections, business regulations). Financial sources: cities (service charges, sales taxes, property taxes, state transfers, federal transfers); counties (state transfers, federal transfers, service charges, property taxes); state (personal income tax, sales and use tax, corporation tax, insurance tax). There are sometimes funded and unfunded mandates from higher to lower levels of government.

5 China Local government officials are motivated to cultivate extra-budgetary resources by collecting special fees and assessments (in recent years, the central government has tried to crack down on this kind of practice, by imposing, for example, the requirement for “separate lines for revenues and expenses” 收 支兩條線 ). U.S. Limited chances for local governments to generate extra-budgetary revenues; restrictive state laws limiting the taxing powers of local governments.

6 China Local government officials are highly motivated to support highly visible industrial/economic projects, real estate development deals, and other money-generating activities; they are less interested in long-term projects, environmental protection, redistributive programs, and other less visible projects. U.S. Local government officials are motivated to support policies that generate a stable source of revenues, for example, by supporting business establishment and real estate development. But in some communities that have stable revenue sources, local government officials may actually be opposed to business and real estate development. For cities with more stable local leadership, more long-term investments in the community are feasible. Many affluent cities are anti-growth. Property owners’ interests are major drivers of city policies.

7 China Five layers of local government (province, city, county, township, village): for each provincial government, there are too many city and county governments for it to oversee; for each county, there are too many township governments for it to oversee. U.S. Three layers of local government: state, county, and city. In the State of California: 58 counties; in the County of Los Angeles: 88 cities. The major responsibility of the state is not to oversee the 58 counties, but to implement its own policies and programs. The major responsibility of the county is not to oversee the 88 cities, but to implement its own policies and programs.

8 China Duplication of offices across different levels of government (e.g., environmental protection bureaus/offices/officials at all levels); many administrative resources are spent on answering to higher-level governments 与上級单位 对口. U.S. Since each level of government has its unique set of responsibilities, different levels have different sets of government departments, e.g., environmental protection agency only at the state level.

9 China Higher-levels governments may have more financial resources, but lack implementing agents under their direct control, e.g., Ministry of Environmental Protection. U.S. Higher-level governments implement most of their own policies and programs (e.g., environmental protection); but sometimes they rely on lower-level governments for implementation (e.g. low- income housing).

10 China ??? U.S. A unique feature: the proliferation of special districts. Total number of governments in the US: over 89,000.

11 Groundwater Basins in Southern California (A)

12 Number of Governmental Units by Type: 1942 to 2007 Type of government \ Total units 155,116102,39281,29983,23787,50489,527 U.S. government State government 4850 Local governments 155,067102,34181,24883,18687,45389,476..County 3,050 3,0493,0423,0433,033..Municipal 16,22017,21518,04819,20019,37219,492..Township and town 18,91917,19817,10516,69116,62916,519..School district 108,57950,45421,78214,72113,72613,051..Special district 8,29914,42421,26429,53234,68337,381


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