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State and federal mandates multiplied rapidly over the past decade, across a wide range of policy areas. Although justice and public safety is an area of shared responsibility, states consistently attempt to shift more of the burden to counties. Arkansas and Missouri have only partially compensated counties for the true costs of the increased number of prisoners sent to county jails by the state. Florida counties are responsible for the detention costs for juveniles on a pre-trial basis, state court costs and a portion of the state’s Medicaid costs for the incarcerated. The state of Michigan sets the salary and benefit rates for district court judges; funding for these courts is provided by counties in six of these districts. In Ariz., the state requires counties to provide a separate tech system for the courts, without providing the full funding to cover the cost.


A cost shift is also occurring in the realm of health and human services. As an example, the state of New Hampshire transferred the cost of long-term care to counties following the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, without providing funding for the service. As a result, property taxes are increasing to cover the costs.18


The state of Georgia requires counties to share the cost of


the state’s Health Department and the Department of Family and Children.


nearly three- quarters (73 percent) of states are requiring counties to do more with what they have, decreasing state funding to counties or a combination of both.


Mandates enacted by state and federal legislators or issued by administrative agencies may advance important public interests. However, they need to be accompanied by financial resources for implementation. In many instances, the governmental entity issuing the mandate fails to provide the necessary resources, leaving counties to resort to general revenues raised from property taxes. Further, local communities are not being granted the opportunity to weigh the benefits against the increased tax burdens to implement state and federal mandates.


3 COUNTIES ARE ADJUSTING TO NEW FISCAL CHALLENGES ON THE HORIZON.


Several developments are challenging local fiscal conditions across the nation. MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. In 25 states and the District of Columbia (33 states following the November 2016 election), marijuana legalization promises to increase the flow of revenue into state coffers. However, costs associated with potential substance abuse problems (such as behavioral health, family services and law enforcement) may prevent counties from receiving a net financial benefit from this new source of revenue. Only five states (Calif., Colo., N.Y., N.C., Wash.) have revenue sharing agreements with counties for excise taxes on marijuana. This revenue sharing follows one of two models. First, the state of Washington shares a small portion of the excise tax with local governments opting to allow sale of marijuana for recreational purposes within their jurisdiction.19


Second, Colorado shares a portion of marijuana sales


revenue only with the localities that have not approved recreational marijuana use and sale; these funds are intended to address local impacts of marijuana legalization from neighboring jurisdictions. In addition, Colorado granted counties the ability to collect their own excise taxes on retail marijuana sales with no rate limitation.20


At the same time, counties in all these states face the possibility of increasing expenses related to issues such as substance abuse or driving under the influence.


NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of COUNTIES | NOVEMBER 2016 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


15 67


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