Block Grants: Perspectives and Controversies [April 15, 2014]   [open pdf - 399KB]

"Block grants are a form of grant-in-aid that the federal government uses to provide state and local governments a specified amount of funding to assist them in addressing broad purposes, such as community development, social services, public health, or law enforcement. Block grant advocates argue that block grants increase government efficiency and program effectiveness by redistributing power and accountability through decentralization and partial devolution of decision-making authority from the federal government to state and local governments. Advocates also view them as a means to reduce the federal deficit. For example, Representative Paul Ryan, chair of the House Committee on the Budget, has recommended that the federal share of Medicaid be converted into a block grant 'tailored to meet each state's needs' as a means to improve 'the health-care safety net for low-income Americans' and to 'save $810 billion over 10 years.' […] This report provides an overview of the six grant types, provides criteria for defining a block grant and uses those criteria to provide a list of current block grants, examines competing perspectives concerning the use of block grants versus other grant mechanisms to achieve national goals, provides an historical overview of the role of block grants in American federalism, and examines recent changes to existing block grants and proposals to create new ones."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40486
Public Domain
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