Mayors: Next governor will determine future of MinnesotaMayors from across greater Minnesota adjourned their annual summer conference Friday by declaring that the next governor will determine the fate of rural communities.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Mayors from across greater Minnesota adjourned their annual summer conference Friday by declaring that the next governor will determine the fate of rural communities.
Hibbing Mayor Rick Wolff, newly elected president of the Coalition of Greater MN Cities, which organized the conference, said that the upcoming election for governor is the most important election that rural Minnesota has ever faced.
“Over the past eight years greater Minnesota communities have been cut over 1 billion dollars and the results have been a 64 percent increase in property taxes, and cuts to critical community services,” said Rick Wolff. “Greater Minnesota simply cannot remain competitive in attracting or keeping families, businesses and our young people if we continue making our cities less attractive places to live.”
The highlight of the conference was a gubernatorial candidate forum held Thursday at the Winona County History Center. All three major party candidates were invited, but Republican Tom Emmer announced earlier in the week he would not attend.
“It is essential to the future of rural Minnesota that the next governor be a supporter of Local Government Aid,” said Rick Wolff. “Without the program, property taxes will skyrocket and there would be drastic cuts to police, fire, libraries and other services.”
Wolff said his membership, which consists of 75 outstate cities, was deeply concerned that Republican Tom Emmer skipped the debate, given his statements that he does not support the Local Government Aid (LGA) program.
Mayors of all political stripes wanted to hear Rep. Emmer explain his position on LGA, or what he would replace the program with, and what his plans to balance the budget are, and how rural communities would be impacted, Wolff stated.
Both Mark Dayton and Tom Horner said during the debate that they support the LGA program and understand how vital it is in keeping property taxes down and rural communities strong.
“Our members appreciated Dayton and Horner addressing the LGA and budget issues, and hope Rep. Emmer will offer some specific plans in the coming weeks.” Wolff said.
The Coalition plans to continue traveling the state over the next two months to engage citizens and call on all candidates to support policies that will benefit the entire state.