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Fiscal Dependence and Bureaucratic Responsiveness in State Environmental Regulation

Author: NEAL D. WOODS
Published in PAQ, Vol. 38 No. 1

This study assesses the relationship between the dependence of administrative agencies on particular funding sources and the influence external actors have on agency operations. Data from a unique survey of state air quality administrators indicate that clean air agencies differ substantially in the composition of their funding sources. Multivariate analyses suggest that these differences affect the amount of influence administrators perceive external actors to have on air quality enforcement. Increased dependence on state general fund financing is associated with increases in the perceived influence of both the legislature and the governor, while reliance on federal grants is associated with increased agency responsiveness to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Greater reliance on revenue gained through agency enforcement actions, on the other hand, is associated with increased perceived amounts of agency autonomy. These findings raise provocative questions about the implications of moving away from the regular appropriations process for the democratic accountability of bureaucratic agencies.

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