Integrate the state's growth criteria into discretionary funding decisions


There is no better way to determine what an administration values than to look at where and how it spends taxpayer money. If a state is concerned about the challenges of growth and development, the state's discretionary spending should support its development principles and goals (see Policies #3, Establish a set of state development principles and #4, Establish a set of measurable state development goals, in this section). One effective way to do this is to use a scorecard system that allots discretionary funding on the basis of how well projects follow the state's growth principles and meet state goals. The Governor can direct the Office of Smart Growth, growth sub-cabinet, or other appropriate agency to develop a scorecard that integrates the state's development principles and goals into the state's discretionary funding programs. Discretionary funding programs support infrastructure and capital investments, which in turn affect the location and character of growth. Importantly, states can spur local reform of zoning and other land use regulation/management policies at the local level by providing — or withholding — state discretionary funds. Integrating growth criteria into these programs can encourage growth in existing communities, reward communities for policy changes that support smarter growth outcomes, and make sure that state investment is consistent with state development objectives.


The first step is to ask the growth sub-cabinet, Office of Smart Growth, or other appropriate agency to translate the state's development principles and goals into criteria that will be used in evaluating funding requests. These criteria should be used to formulate a mock scorecard. The mock scorecard can be used to get the public involved and get local buy-in through a process to refine, finalize, and institutionalize the scorecard. As part of this process, staff will also need to determine whether the growth criteria will supplement or replace existing program criteria.

While criteria are being developed, all available discretionary funds should be inventoried in such areas as housing, economic development, infrastructure, water and sewer, schools, transportation, and recreation. This inventory should include not only state funds, but also federal funds, passed through the state, over which the state has discretionary control. The inventory typically can be completed in two to three months.

It is important that local government officials not see the growth scorecard as an insurmountable barrier. Therefore, it is crucial to educate community leaders so that they understand the scorecard, its purpose, and how it can be useful to them. In addition, the state should provide targeted technical assistance to local governments, especially to help those that need to improve their scores to gain access to state funding. The scorecard provides an important incentive for communities to avail themselves of technical assistance programs that are provided or supported by the state, including technical assistance to help local governments that wish to revise their zoning, building, subdivision or other codes.


Download This Section     Download Entire Guide
This page was last updated 07/02/09 09:31:23 AM