Chapter Overview

Analyzing public budgets is a very critical method of determining what we mean by commitment, and determining how that commitment ties into the issue of sustainability at the state and local level. Through our analysis of budgeting in state and local government we found that commitment requires the expenditure of considerable resources over time. The resources in question will come from a variety of sources both internal to and external from state and local government, and sustainability requires the development of reliable and noninjurious resource bases to support the programs and policies required to meet the needs of the private sector and civil society. Although the needs to be addressed are many and the challenges facing us are rather daunting, the resource base available to state and local governments is likely to be relatively constrained for quite some time into the future. The challenge for the accomplishment of sustainability in state and local government in the years ahead might have less to do with resource provision and much more to do with strategic spending choices. In terms of sustainability, the "healthy" and resilient community relies less on the size of its tax base and much more on the wise spending and budgetary vision featuring the balanced pursuit of economic vitality, environmental protection, and social equity.

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