Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Public administration, Intergovernmental fiscal relations, Public Finance -- Oregon -- Eugene, Public Finance -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

5, xi, 437 leaves 28 cm.


The research problem for this dissertation was to determine the affects of President Nixon's New Federalism in four Pacific Northwest cities. More specifically, the dissertation sought to determine and explain the effects of the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972, a basic component of the New Federalism, in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Eugene. The central goal of revenue sharing and the New Federalism is to decentralize government in the American federal system. The central fear of those who oppose the effects of such decentralization is that the poor and minority groups of America may be discriminated against by local special interest groups. The purpose of the dissertation was to see the extent to which the goals of the proponents and the fears of the opponents have so far been realized in the revenue sharing experience of four cities. A comparative case study approach was used whereby the General Revenue Sharing experience of each city was described and analyzed in terms of the goals of the New Federalism and the fears of its opponents. The data used for this investigation was obtained from taped interviews with city officials in each of the four cities. A questionnaire was prepared for the interviews which included questions pertaining to federalstate- city relations in terms of grants-in-aid, the fiscal condition of the city, the decision-making process used in the city for allocating revenue sharing funds, who participated in the decision-making process, who benefitted from revenue sharing in the city and the overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the concept of the New Federalism and revenue sharing. In addition to the data collected from city officials who were directly involved in the city revenue sharing process, additional data was obtained from those interviewed showing how the revenue sharing money was dealt with. It should be noted that these city officials were administrative personnel as well as elected officials. The results of the dissertation showed that the decentralization of American government sought by the Nixon Administration has so far not been obtained through General Revenue Sharing insofar as these four cities are concerned. The money from General Revenue Sharing was not adequate for these cities to meaningfully gain increased power and independence from either their states or the federal government. The fiscal requirements of these cities due to inflation, labor costs, demands to compensate for cutback categorical grants of the federal government and inadequate urban tax bases made the infusion of General Revenue Sharing money too small to allow the cities to undertake dramatic "new" departures because of these funds. Seattle and Eugene did undertake housing programs and Portland saw revenue sharing funds as "freeing up" other monies so the city could undertake a new neighborhood participation program, but as a rule these cities found the demands from traditional city services plus the increased burden of having to fund cutback federal categorical grant programs as using up all their funds including revenue sharing. The dissertation laid particular emphasis on the question of whether local poor people and minorities were deliberately included in the decision-making processes over revenue sharing and in the programs funded with revenue sharing funds. It was found that Tacoma especially sought to develop a decision-making process that was inclusive of representatives from all segments of the city and that Seattle had perhaps the least inclusive decisionmaking process. But there was not a direct correlation between degree of citizen-wide participation and benefits from revenue sharing going to all citizens equally. Although General Revenue Sharing is only one part of the New Federalism it appears that for the decentralization of American government to be meaningful, General Revenue Sharing will have to be dramatically increased in funding and supplemented with Special Revenue Sharing to take up the slack from cutback federal categorical grants intended for the human and community services areas. If the major goal of the New Federalism, decentralization, has not been accomplished so far, then the major fear of opponents has not been realized either. The dissertation demonstrates a commitment on the part of the City Council majorities in each city to preserve the progress made in recent years to improve the lot of America's poor and minority citizens. These groups, while sometimes having not been greatly involved in the revenue sharing decision-making processes, were recognized as deserving a part of the revenue sharing funds. The fear that without the federal government's specific prodding local special interests woumd act to ignore the interests of local minorities and the poor was not confirmed by this study.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


Portland State University. Ph.D. Program in Urban Studies.

Persistent Identifier