La crisis fiscal por abajo

PALO ALTO – Los gobiernos subnacionales –estados, países, ciudades, provincias, villas y distritos especiales– desempeñan papeles diferentes de un país a otro, pero suelen prestar servicios importantes, como, por ejemplo, la policía y la protección contra incendios, el transporte, la educación, la atención de salud y la asistencia social. En muchos países, su situación fiscal se ha desplomado bajo el peso combinado de la mala gestión y la crisis financiera y económica mundial.

La relación entre los gobiernos subnacionales y centrales comprende la división general de cometidos en materia de prestación y financiación de servicios públicos, las subvenciones nacionales que sufragan en parte diversos servicios prestados localmente y la recaudación de impuestos.

En los Estados Unidos, corresponden al gobierno federal los cometidos relativos a la defensa, las pensiones publicas de vejez (Seguridad Social) y la atención de salud a los ancianos (Medicare); a los gobiernos subnacionales corresponden los de la educación y la imposición del cumplimiento de la ley. La atención de salud para los pobres (Medicaid) es un cometido compartido. Los fondos paralelos pasan del gobierno federal a los estatales y locales mediante fórmulas que detallan los cometidos compartidos. Algunas de dichas fórmulas permiten a los gobiernos subnacionales una gran discrecionalidad; otras, no.

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