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Cities in the United States are likely to shoulder additional responsibilities during the Trump administration, as federal leaders seek to cut the federal budget and workforce and reduce regulatory authority in Washington, says the Brookings Institute.

Which cities are best and worst positioned to adjust? Brookings’ new study, “City budgets in an era of increased uncertainty,” tries to answer.

The study surveys 100 large cities across four factors:

  • Tax authority, the number of general taxes (property, sales, or income taxes) a city is authorized by its state to use;
  • Taxation and expenditure constraints, measured by the difference between a city’s legal maximum property tax rate and its actual rate;
  • Fiscal base alignment, which measures how aligned a city’s economic base is with its tax structure; and
  • Demand for services, measured by partisanship, housing affordability, and union density within a city, which correlate with higher demand for municipal expenditures and lower fiscal flexibility.

Chicago ties with 13 other cities for dead last.

The top ten and worst ten cities are shown in the chart below, taken from the study.


Mark Glennon is founder and executive editor of Wirepoints.

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It looks like scores are heavily weighted towards cities with income taxes (they always score 2 points), although cities with an income tax typically don’t levy a sales tax (something most proponents like CTU forget when suggesting city/commuter tax). I’m not sure why Chicago has a zero score for sales tax.