THE DL-Online published an editorial about budget negotiations at the Capitol. They agreed with the chambers of commerce that spoke at the Capitol and met with the Governor about how cuts to LGA lead to higher property taxes for individuals and businesses. Both the chambers and the DL-Online agree that it’s time for the legislature to meet the Governor halfway on raising revenue.
They called for compromise, saying the governor and Legislature must come together to produce a budget compromise that includes both cuts and a state revenue increase.
The group said that the disproportionate cuts to LGA over the past years have driven up property taxes 65 percent across the state since 2002, with greater Minnesota taking the biggest hits.
“We already know what a tax increase looks like. It looks like this — a property tax statement — which our businesses and families have been slapped with year after year because of the continued cuts to LGA, and we’ve had enough of that,” said Dan Dorman, a former Republican state representative and current executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.
Read the entire editorial here.
The Minneapolis StarTribune asked Minnesotans how they want the legislature and governor to solve the budget deficit. By a 2-1 margin, poll respondents favored a blended solution that includes tax increases as well as cuts, rather than an all-cuts budget.
While state leaders are locked in a battle over the best way to balance the state’s budget, a strong majority of Minnesotans say they want a solution that mixes tax hikes and spending reductions, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they favor a blend of higher taxes and service reductions to tackle the state’s $5 billion projected deficit. Just 27 percent said they want state leaders to balance the budget solely through cuts.
Read the entire story here.
Mayors across the state are speaking up against LGA cuts in the tax conference committee report. If the reductions are signed into law, they would put even more pressure on property taxpayers and could further reduce core services.
ST. PAUL - A Republican tax bill that cuts state payments to cities upset city leaders. The House-Senate tax conference committee agreed late Thursday to trim Local Government Aid as it wrapped up a tax bill, and phasing out aid to Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis. Comments rolled in all day Friday.
“Last night, the tax conference committee decided to cut an additional 29 percent of Local Government Aid funding and cripple the state’s largest cities by phasing out their funding,” said Park Rapids Mayor Nancy Carroll, president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. “The House and Senate majority’s plan to balance the state budget by relying entirely on spending cuts and property tax increases is unacceptable.”
Read the article in the Bemidji Pioneer here.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined New Ulm Mayor Robert Buessman, North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehan, and Mankato City Council member Mike Laven in Mankato to highlight the importance of LGA to southern Minnesota and the whole state. The Mankato Free Press covered the story here and KEYC’s story can be viewed here.
Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak attended similar press conferences in Alexandria and Moorhead. He was joined in Alexandria by mayor H. Dan Ness, Elbow Lake mayor Jay McNamar and Morris mayor Sheldon Giese. In Moorhead, Rybak spoke with city council member (and mayor pro-tem) Greg Lemke and other city officials. KSAX wrote about the Alexandria stop here and Inforum covered the meeting in Moorhead here.
The Twin Cities Daily Planet ran a series of articles about LGA and how the budget battles at the legislature could affect the future of Minnesota’s cities. These four stories highlight some of the voices in the debate and the possible consequences of the bills under consideration at the Capitol:
Cut LGA? Fighting words for mayors across Minnesota
What “no new taxes” means for local property owners
Looking for the money: What about local sales taxes?
Mayors to state lawmakers: We don’t want the Twin Cities to become Detroit
The Albert Lea Tribune turns to botany as a metaphor to describe the interconnectedness of Minnesota communities. Their April 4th editorial focuses on the importance of LGA in equalizing property taxes across the state and helping all communities provide basic services.
It has become frustrating for people in Greater Minnesota and in Minneapolis and St. Paul to see increasing property taxes, industrial taxes and fees and yet have fewer services - all thanks to the annual barrage the suburban leaders make on local government aid.
Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said it best last week in a conference call: “Minnesota is one state and we succeed or fail based on whether we work together.”
Read the entire editorial here
A Forum editorial notes that the recently passed House tax bill could mean higher property taxes across the state.
Minnesota’s budget crisis has not gone away. In fairness, legislators are trying to balance a budget that is deeply in the red. But fairness was the initial motivation for LGA. It was designed to address basic services concerns in cities where tax bases were not as lucrative as they are in wealthy suburbs. The program has worked very well for Moorhead, Detroit Lakes and dozens of other out-state cities. It has helped keep those cities financially sound and attractive to residents.
Read the entire editorial here
The Marshall Independent reported on a March 30 conference call of mayors from large and small Minnesota cities. The mayors of Granite Falls, Cloquet, St. Paul and Minneapolis spoke out about possible cuts to LGA and how essential it is to providing basic services.
[Cloquet Mayor Bruce] Ahlgren said his city is already feeling heavy burdens because of budget problems. He said the city has reduced staff through attrition and has combined positions so one person is doing the job of two; there also been pay freezes there, furloughs and shortened hours at the library.
“The next thing we would end up having to do if we lose LGA, we’d have to cut public safety, that’s something no one wants to do,” he said. “We need LGA to continue. You can come here and look at our streets and tell we don’t have money to fix our infrastructure.”
Read the Marshall Independent story here
The West Central Tribune also reported on the conference call here