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.
State Revenue Increase Better Than Property Tax Increases
(St. Paul, MN)– Local chambers of commerce from across the state gathered Monday for a State Capitol press conference to explain that local government aid is critical to business growth and livable communities throughout the state and that 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% across the state since 2002, with greater Minnesota taking the biggest hits.
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On Tuesday, April 26th, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman met with New Ulm Mayor Robert Beussman, Mankato City Council President Mike Laven and North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen. They highlighted how a large majority of area businesses support LGA and support keeping it at its current levels for all cities.
From the Mankato Free Press:
Mankato attorney Randy Berkland spoke to the business community’s interest in the program: “Having a vibrant city and surrounding vibrant small towns is good for our growth.”
“We recognize a sharing of the pain. Our concern is when the cutbacks are directed at one place,” Berkland said.
Read the Mankato Free Press story 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
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
In her March 19th Star Tribune column, Lori Sturdevant writes about the history of LGA and asks what that state would look like now if it had never existed.
State Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, the House Property Taxes Division’s formidable gavel-wielder and budget hawk, deserves a nod for inspiring the “what if” question I mulled last week:
What if, in 1971, Minnesota had not created local government aid (LGA)?
Read the entire column here
The Fargo-Moorhead Forum weighed in on LGA in the paper’s editorial section today. Citing the disproportionate cuts cities have taken over the past decade, the paper notes that non-essential spending has been eliminated in most area cities, leaving municipalities the choice to either pare back critical services such as police, fire protection and snow removal, or increase property taxes and fees. As the paper notes, these actions widen the disparities between rural Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro that the LGA program was instituted to bridge. To read the full editorial, click here.
An opinion piece in today’s Ely Timberjay makes the point that the LGA program is a critical tool in keeping property taxes affordable in lower wealth communities. In response to wealthier cities that do not receive LGA and may feel shortchanged, the author argues that strengthening the economic vitality of lower wealth cities is in the interest of all Minnesotans:
I would argue that Minnesota is one big community where citizens deserve to have basic public services and needs met with help from statewide revenues. Police and fire responders, public works, planning and zoning, utilities, a library and economic development are not too much to ask. Good governance, programs for children and teens and recreation are essential to healthy communities. We should not let small and poorer towns fall by the wayside.
To read the full column, click here.