Cities vow to recover cut LGA at annual conferenceMembers of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) passed a resolution to urge the Legislature to reduce the governor’s 2010 unallotment of local government aid (LGA) at their annual conference in Brainerd, held July 29-31.
Members of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) passed a resolution to urge the Legislature to reduce the governor’s 2010 unallotment of local government aid (LGA) at their annual conference in Brainerd, held July 29-31.
The resolution contends that the governor’s unallotment of LGA disproportionately cut the city aid program compared to other state programs and also will have its clearest impact in Greater Minnesota.
“LGA is what ensures cities across the state have the same ability to provide needed services at a fair price to property taxpayers,” said newly-elected CGMC President Tim Strand, mayor of St. Peter. “We need the Legislature to reaffirm its commitment to strong cities in 2010 and repair the damage that has been done through unallotment.”
The governor’s unallotment of LGA was a central topic of a property tax panel and legislative leadership panel at the coalition’s conference.
“This next election is a pivotal election for Minnesota’s future,” said Senator Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), who has also announced his campaign for governor. “If this idea of unallotment holds as constitutional, you won’t need a Legislature anymore. Governors will be able to unilaterally impose their budgets, so you better make sure that whoever you support for governor supports local government aid.”
Republican House member Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) agreed that unallotment was not ideal, but also noted that the Legislature was not blameless in the outcome.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that we ended up with an unallotment,” Lanning told the coalition members. “It didn’t have to end that way. I think the Legislature would have done these cuts differently if the legislators would have acknowledged the reality that the governor was not going to accept tax increases.”
Several legislators in the panel discussions disagreed with the governor’s disproportionate cuts to LGA, and also challenged his notion that cities are not doing enough to tighten their belts through the economic downturn.
“I don’t believe there is much out there for cities to cut, particularly in Greater Minnesota,” said House Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm). “You’ve got your police, you’ve got your fire, you’ve got your EMS, and the folks that work on your core government services – and many of you are already sharing services. There’s not much left in rural Minnesota, and it takes folks from rural Minnesota to figure that out.”
In addition to participating in policy discussion panels, several legislators were also honored by the coalition for their support of Greater Minnesota initiatives.