Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Poor States

There was an interesting story on the cover of yesterday's Excélsior about how reliant states are on federal cash transfers to finance their expenditures. The federal government provides almost 90 percent of all state spending across Mexico. Far and away the most self-reliant entity is Mexico City, where almost 60 percent of the spending comes from federal cash. Next on the list is Chihuahua, where 85 percent of the spending comes from the federal government. On the other end of the list are Hidalgo, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, none of which provide more than 4 percent of the cash that they spend.

This has an impact on crime policy in two ways. First, the cities lack the funds to take control of their security when it is challenged by a handful of millionaire criminals and hundreds of would-be millionaire criminals. Second, the reliance on the federal government contributes to a positively can't-do ethos. Whenever something goes wrong, local officials complain that the federal government is leaving them alone. Which is in many cases true, but states and cities could certainly do a better job at least trying to handle their own security, especially since in most cases police work is inherently a local task.

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