What we have here is a failure to communicate.
In Saturday's Hutchinson Leader, state representative Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, writes in Urdahl, Gruenhagen have rural Minnesota's interests at heart:
Last session, we proposed that Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth receive an LGA reduction — not rural Minnesota cities. These are three major cities that, due to high populations, have the needed tax base to support themselves.
Reps. Gruenhagen and Urdahl understand that LGA should be reserved for towns in Greater Minnesota that need the funds for critical services — not for major metropolitan cities that want to spend their money on nice-to-haves such as street cars and light rail. . . .
[Paul] Marquart believes the best way to help property taxpayers is to spend more of your money on LGA — especially in the Twin Cities. About that $88 million LGA increase he and an all Democratic-led legislature approved in 2013-14? The Democrats gave Minneapolis and St. Paul disproportionately more than they did rural Minnesota communities — and property taxes still jumped in both metro and rural areas!
Meanwhile, in a widely distributed column, two Republican mayors representing the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (lobbyists here) are not impressed with "new House Republican majority to show leadership on a key issue affecting communities across Greater Minnesota: Local Government Aid (LGA)."
It's a complete one-eighty from the Draz.
The Republican mayors of Owatonna and Glencoe (it's in Gruenhagen's district) expand on the failure in Thomas Kuntz and Randy Wilson: Minnesota House Republicans need to reverse course and support LGA:
. . . the only message House Republicans have sent on LGA has been far from a positive one. Last spring, the House – with support from every rural Republican – passed a tax bill that would reduce funding for the LGA program by $84 million. This is in stark contrast to the Senate’s version of the tax bill, which includes a $45.5 million increase in LGA funding – the amount needed to get the LGA program back to its 2002 benchmark level.
Minnesota had a nearly $2 billion surplus last session (and it was recently announced that the current surplus remains just as high), which makes it all the more unbelievable that House Republicans voted to cut funding for a program that is the cornerstone of many Greater Minnesota cities. The House Republicans’ stance is wrong for LGA and wrong for Minnesota. . . .
While cutting $84 million out of the LGA program when Minnesota has a significant budget surplus is unjustifiable in its own right, the House’s method of doing so is downright dangerous to the future of the entire program.
The proposed $84 million in cuts are targeted solely at the “first class” cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. The House GOP’s argument for the cuts is that LGA “was never intended” for Minneapolis and St. Paul, that they get “too much” LGA and that they don’t need it because of their large tax bases.
These arguments are completely unfounded. The original 1971 statute on LGA specifically refers to how Minneapolis and St. Paul’s share of aid is calculated. Since the beginning of the program, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth have received a fair share of LGA funding under a formula that is based on a city’s need and tax base. In fact, the percentage share of LGA going to those cities has actually decreased in recent years.
You may be wondering why two mayors from Greater Minnesota are defending Minneapolis and St. Paul. Shouldn’t we be happy that the House is going after the giants rather than us little guys? The fact is that if successful, the House’s attack on LGA severely undermines a program that is vital to many Greater Minnesota communities. If the House GOP succeeds in cutting LGA from the first-class cities, what’s to stop our cities from being on the chopping block next? . . .
Photo: Glencoe, Minnesota. Photo by
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