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Governing States and Localities

Governing States and Localities

Eighth Edition

August 2021 | 576 pages | CQ Press
The trusted and proven Governing States and Localities guides students through the contentious state of state and local politics and focuses on the role that economic and budget pressures play on issues facing them.  With their engaging journalistic writing and crisp storytelling, the authors provide a comparative approach to explain how and why states and localities are both similar and different.  The Eighth Edition is thoroughly updated to account for such major state and local developments and conflicts and the impact of the Donald Trump presidency on intergovernmental relations and issues of central interest to states and localities.

Chapter 1 • Introduction to State and Local Government: They Tax Dogs in West Virginia, Don’t They?
Chapter 2 • Federalism: The Power Plan
Chapter 3 • Constitutions: Operating Instructions
Chapter 4 • Finance: Filling the Till and Paying the Bills
Chapter 5 • Political Attitudes and Participation: Venting and Voting
Chapter 6 • Parties and Interest Groups: Elephants, Donkeys, and Cash Cows
Chapter 7 • Legislatures: The Art of Herding Cats
Chapter 8 • Governors and Executives: There Is No Such Thing as Absolute Power
Chapter 9 • Courts: Turning Law into Politics
Chapter 10 • Bureaucracy: What Nobody Wants but Everybody Needs
Chapter 11 • Local Government: Function Follows Form
Chapter 12 • Metropolitics: The Hole Problem of Government
Chapter 13 • Education: Reading, Writing, and Regulation
Chapter 14 • Crime and Punishment
Chapter 15 • Health and Welfare
Chapter 16 • Environment and Climate Change: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
Key features


All chapters have been revised substantially, with the content updated throughout to reflect the latest issues, trends, and political changes, including the following:

  • Analysis of the results of the most recent legislative and gubernatorial elections.
  • Discussion of the most important state supreme court decisions and constitutional debates.
  • The growing impact of political polarization at the state and even local levels, and the implications of the nationalization of party politics for sub-national governance.
  • The impact of the Donald Trump presidency on inter-governmental relations and issues of central interest to states and localities.
  • In-depth examination of recent events and issues that have had impacts on (and in some cases transformed) states and localities, such as the federal-state tugs of war over immigration reform, school shootings and gun control, and the impact of tax cuts on public services and economic performance.
  • Updates to “The Latest Research” sections at the ends of all chapters, where recent scholarship is put into the context of what students have just read.



  • “A Difference That Makes a Difference” boxes provide clear examples of how variations among states and localities can be used to explain a wide range of political and policy phenomena. These pieces detail the ways the institutions, regulations, political culture, demographics, and other factors of a particular state shape its constitution, the way its political parties function, how its citizens tend to vote, how it allocates its financial resources, and why its courts are structured the way they are, to name a few.
  • “Local Focus” boxes spotlight the ways localities function independently of the states and show how they are both constrained and empowered by intergovernmental ties. From battles to wrest control of their budgets from the state to constitutional restrictions on how they can tax and spend, the topics addressed in these boxes showcase the rich variety represented in these nearly 87,000 substate entities.
  • “Policy in Practice” boxes demonstrate how different states and localities have interpreted and implemented the legislation handed down from higher levels of government, and the consequences of these decisions. The impact of declining agency fees on public unions, the difficulties and implications of city-county mergers, and the policy implications of the power imbalance between states and localities are just some of the issues addressed.
  • “States Under Stress” boxes demonstrate how states deal with challenges such as the long-lingering effects of the Great Recession and the impact of natural disasters. 
  • “Top Ten Takeaways” reinforces key themes and ideas. Each chapter also includes a set of highlighted key concepts. These terms are defined near the places where they are introduced in the text and are compiled into a list at the end of each chapter, with corresponding page numbers. A comprehensive glossary of key terms precedes the book’s index.
  • SAGE edge provides students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment. 

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ISBN: 9781071839829

ISBN: 9781544388601