Federal laws and regulations requiring specific action from state and local governments without providing federal funding to pay for it are called unfounded mandates.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970, which established nationwide standards for air quality, is one such unfounded mandate. Although it is a federal law, states must pay the cost of implementation and enforcement.
For years, state and local governments have lobbied Congress to end the practice of federal mandates without funds for implementation. In 1995, Congress passed the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, which attempts to lighten the economic burden imposed by federal mandates on individual states.
When deciding what to do about federal mandates that are not funded, one must consider both sides. With federal mandates such as the Clean Air Act, Superfund cleanup and the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. government sets national standards that states and local governments dont necessarily want. If the laws are necessary, taxpayers at the local level should approve them. Otherwise, the federal government should be expected to pay for the mandates they regulate. Unfunded mandates are one more way for Washington bureaucrats to transfer responsibility for their actions onto the backs of local taxpayers.
Considering other points of view, federal mandates defend the well-being of all Americans by setting nationwide environmental and economic standards. The minimum wage, clean air standards, and workplace safety have all been defined by various federal mandates. These mandates are the most effective way of ensuring that these minimum requirements are met on the local level. Local authorities, if left to their own devices, might not always respect these standards. Different states, for instance, might compete for business by adopting lesser minimum wage standards and triggering a race to the bottom. The 1995 Unfunded Mandates Reform Act prevents abuses of this system by providing financial assistance when necessary to state and local governments.
When states try to find ways to restrain from non-essential areas, unfunded federal mandates are at the top of the list. These mandates often force state and local governments to spend much more than necessary on everything from medical care to welfare to road building. A complex web of federal programs bind together the tree treasuries of the local, state, and federal government. As much as 25 percent of state budgets now comes from the federal government, and up to 60 percent of some state budgets is spent on joint federal-state programs.
Most state and local officials welcome the money from the government. However, the problem is that the money comes with strings attached. To obtain the federal money the state and local government had to spend more funds, and abide by costly federal rules that also help push up spending.
With all this to consider, I agree in the opinion that the federal government should fund the mandates that put binds on the state and local governments. They should not have to fund the mandates if they are of reasonable limits. If Congress has to make a mandate for an essential problem that the states themselves cannot handle, then yes the states should have to pay for it.