BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The fiscal features of American federalism and intergovernmental relations guide how much we–as Americans–spend on public infrastructure and services at the federal, state and local level, and what we spend on; how we tax ourselves at different levels to fund public expenditures; how our fiscal resources are distributed between government levels and across jurisdictions through intergovernmental fiscal transfers or grants; and how much governments at the federal, state and local level borrow on our behalf.

At the federal, state and local government levels, revenue and expenditure decisions are guided by their respective fiscal institutions. Fiscal institutions can be defined in broad terms as the laws, procedures and conventions that influence fiscal decision making and governance.