Over the past several years, many of California's counties have experienced increasing financial stress. While Butte County is perhaps the most visible example of recent county financial troubles, our analysis indicates that the problem is inherent to the existing arrangement of state and county responsibilities and affects all counties to greater or lesser extent. The existing county-state partnership suffers from a variety of structural problems—such as program fragmentation, counter-productive fiscal incentives, and the inappropriate division of responsibilities—that both diminish the effectiveness of these programs and reduce the financial viability of county governments