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Report examines how much local governments spend on lobbying

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State Auditor Rebecca Otto recently released the 2009 Local Government Lobbying Services Report. It is a comprehensive report on the expenditures by local governments and their associations for lobbyists and lobbying services during calendar year 2009. The report is intended to inform the public and policymakers of the amount spent by local governments on lobbying services.

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The operation and funding of local governments can be greatly affected by decisions made by the state Legislature. Therefore, those affected by these decisions often have representation at the Capitol during the legislative session. This report documents the level of expenditures made by local governments and their associations to perform this function.

"There is a traditional pattern of lobbying expenses being higher during the longer legislative budget session and lower during the shorter bonding session," said Auditor Otto. "The year 2009 was a budget session. The legislature and Governor had to close a large state budget deficit, which included local government aid cuts," said Otto. "Lobbying cost increases have been closer to 9% and 10% over the last several years. Considering the circumstances this session, the costs historically would have been higher, but were actually lower."

Highlights from the report include:

-- Local governments spent a total of $8,879,610 on lobbying activities in 2009. This represents an increase of $329,592 or 3.9 percent over the amount spent on lobbying services in 2008.

-- Seventy-eight local governments (14 more than in 2008) reported that they directly employed staff or hired contract lobbyists in 2009. These local governments spent a total of $4,429,214 on staff and contract lobbyists. This was $519,113, or 13.3 percent, more than in 2008.

-- In addition to the $4.4 million paid directly to staff and contract lobbyists, local governments paid dues of $10,205,657 in 2009 to local government associations that also represented their interests before the legislature. These associations spent $4,450,396 on lobbyists and lobbying in 2009. This represents a decrease of 4.1 percent from 2008. Of the $4.5 million spent on lobbyists and lobbying by these associations, $4,376,419 was funded exclusively through dues. This represents an increase of 2.1 percent over the $4,287,411 in association dues that were spent on lobbying activities in 2008.

To view the complete report, which includes an executive summary, tables and graphs, go to:

http://www.auditor.state.mn.us/default.aspx?page=20100525.001.

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