July 21, 2016
Priorities in America’s Counties 2016
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is out with a fresh report this month, entitled Priorities in America’s Counties 2016, which looks at the continuing budgetary pressures the nation’s 3,069 counties are facing even as demand for government services grows. The report centers on a survey conducted earlier this year of the Association’s 10 policy steering committees. Some of the survey’s key findings include:
- 44 percent of respondents reported cuts to County services in the last fiscal year.
- A supermajority identified substance abuse as the top public health as well as the public safety concern.
- 71 percent said that additional infrastructure investment held the great potential for county economic development.
- 42 percent pointed to housing as the biggest challenge to economic growth.
- 27 percent indicated that inadequate or unavailable broadband service remains a significant challenge.
Notably, the survey also found widespread nationwide shortages in healthcare and social service professionals. These shortages are exacerbated by federal mandates and policy direction that undermine the introduction of innovative and integrated approaches to the delivery of social services.
The stifling of innovation by the federal government is no surprise to us here at Prime Policy Group. We frequently work with our local government clients to secure federal support for ambitious and innovative local initiatives that do not perfectly align with existing federal policies or grant programs, but nevertheless represent the vanguard in addressing complex, societal challenges.
NACo’s report serves as another reminder that counties best understand their communities and the strategies to meet them, but their success in doing so hinges on greater federal flexibility, support and collaboration.