Learning about the United States government can be very complicated because there are so many levels of government. In this lesson, I am going to try to simplify how our government is run, so it can make better sense.
The most important thing to remember is that basically the United States government is made up of three layers. These are: city government, state government, and federal government.
City government or local government, as do state and federal government, make city laws. Let’s say you live in Los Angeles. There will be special laws for this city that may be in some instances the same as in other cities or in some cases, may vary.
The head of a city is the mayor, who runs the city and towns around the city. Cities also have a city council. City councils have committee meetings where they make up some rules. They can raise money by taxing residents who own property. The city council can also vote on raising a sales tax. The taxes that are raised are used to run schools, maintain roads, and pay for police, firefighters, and other city workers. It is important to know about your local government because it can affect you as a resident. When it comes to voting, you will have to decide what you think is important. Do you want to raise taxes for better roads and better schools, or do you feel you’d rather keep that money for yourself instead of paying taxes? These are important things to think about when you are old enough to vote.
State governments, as do city governments, make laws, collect taxes, run courts and prisons. State governments are run by governors. The governor is the head of the state legislature. The state legislature elects representatives and senators from towns and cities from all over the state.
You might think of a governor as another version of the president. The governor is in charge of various agencies in the state. For example, the state legislature can be compared to the U.S. Congress and has the job of setting up budgets as to how much will be spent. They decide the amount to be spent on various programs. They propose and pass laws. The state court is another version of the Supreme Court.
And now we have the federal government. The federal government is the ruler of the local government and the state government. Here is when the U.S. Congress has the final word regarding changing or creating federal laws and paying federal taxes. The U.S. Supreme Court has the final word on federal legal disputes, and the U.S. president has the final word regarding enforcing those laws.
Source: The book, Jesse Ventura Tells it Like it is
Chapter Three, The Many Levels of Government