The report Preface: The improvement of public services apparently helps in stimulating economic development in rural areas and in improving the living standards of rural people. Before these services can be improved, however, means must be found to finance the improvements. Decisions about additional financing must be made in the light of present revenues and expenditures. This report is designed to provide basic background information on the finances of State and local governments in the North Central region of the United States. It is our belief that these data will be useful both to research workers and to others who are trying to find ways to improve local services.