Dianne Stewart

Dianne Stewart, the program director of Public Works, is a veteran of state government and advocacy on issues affecting low-income families.

Recent Articles

Public Capacity and Public Trust

Can we reverse the vicious circle of frustrated citizens denying state government adequate resources -- and then resenting the lack of state services?

For 30 years we have witnessed a downward spiral of eroding public trust in government. While the federal government deals with the most momentous issues -- national security, health reform, global climate change -- state government has borne the brunt of a self-deepening tax revolt. The fiscal noose imposed by tax and spending caps, now exacerbated by the recession, undermines states' ability to raise necessary revenues. The process erodes state governments' basic capacity to operate effectively -- which further destroys public trust. This vicious circle diminishes the willingness of Americans to entrust government at any level with tackling challenges that call for decisive action or for planning and investment in the future. As revenue collections decline due to the recession, states raise taxes or cut services to balance budgets. In hard times, reductions in public services are not only cruel but counterproductive -- in a recession the economy requires not less but more public...