The following commentary explores the future of urban public finance by focusing on the fiscal ills of New England's major cities. The impact of general revenue sharing, categorical grants, federal tax policy, state aid, and own-source city revenues is assessed in light of a city's ability to support itself. The authors conclude that a pattern of "fiscal paternalism" — the past and present policies for annual financial assistance to narrow the expenditure-revenue budget gap — must be altered if cities are to enter the twenty-first century as fiscally stable governments capable of providing the necessary services for a varied constituency.



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