Is the House GOP going out of its way to pit the Twin Cities against rural Minnesota?

MinnPost illustration by Christopher Henderson

Before the 2015 session of the Minnesota state Legislature began, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman thought it would probably be unrealistic to push for an increase in the assistance the state gives to cities, Local Government Aid (LGA).

It’s not that Coleman didn’t think an increase in LGA was needed and deserved. He did. But as the son of a long-serving state Senate majority leader, he also knows something about counting votes. And with the Legislature split between a Republican House and a Democratic Senate, hanging onto LGA increases adopted two years earlier might be the best he could hope for. And though a February revenue forecast that boosted the state surplus to $1.9 billion gave him some hope of an increase, he wasn’t counting on it.

There was one thing, though, that he didn’t anticipate. The budget proposal the House GOP eventually unveiled didn’t add to LGA. Nor did it freeze it. Instead, the Republicans’ plan actually cut $84 million from the $500 million program.

It got worse. Rather than making the reduction across-the-board, as had happened during economic downturns, the plan targeted the cut: St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth would absorb the entire hit.

Was it a coincidence that all three send DFL-heavy delegations to the Capitol? Was it simply by chance that the state’s only other first-class city, Rochester — represented in the Legislature by both Republicans and Democrats — was spared from being targeted?

Combined with dozens of House GOP bills and budget provisions proposed this year — on everything from transportation to public schools and parks — it is easy to see how some political leaders from St. Paul and Minneapolis might take it all a little personally.

“It’s an all-out assault,” Coleman said last week. Since the savings from the LGA cuts are not being distributed to smaller cities across the state, Coleman said. “They’re just punishing us. They’re not helping anyone.”

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges echoes the point, arguing that the Twin Cities area is vital to the state’s economy, producing tax revenue in excess of its population. “Going after the metro area is not going to make Greater Minnesota better off and it is not going to make the state of Minnesota better off.”

Hodges said the dialogue this session is different than in the past when Republicans controlled one or both houses. “There’s always some tension, but this is a blatant attempt by those in the House to pit Greater Minnesota against the metro.”

GOP leaders say numbers are driving policy

No one’s surprised the focus of the House GOP isn’t on the metro: Republicans won control of the House last fall by gaining 10 seats in Greater Minnesota, and they came to the Capitol in January with a rural-first mantra. But House Republican leaders and budget writers deny any coordinated campaign to specifically go after the metro.

Said House Speaker Kurt Daudt: “Republicans are coming forth with real ideas that represent what we think are the priority of all Minnesotans all over the state. If Democrats think that Minneapolis and St. Paul are getting left behind right now, I disagree with that. But then they ought to open their eyes up to the way that the rest of Minnesota felt over the last two years.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
House Speaker Kurt Daudt

GOP lawmakers say it was numbers, not politics, that drove the LGA change. “We realized…they were being paid significantly more than the average of the rest of the cities throughout the state,” said GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, chair of the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division. “As a matter of fact, under this bill, those four cities will still be getting more LGA than the average of the rest of the cities in the state.”

Gov. Mark Dayton has called the LGA cuts a “non-starter.” And Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat from Cook, said his caucus wants to go in the opposite direction. The Senate tax bill, released this week, increases LGA funding by $45.5 million over two years, restoring the program back to 2002 levels. If the House GOP doesn’t like how the money is distributed, Bakk said, they should have proposed a study group to take a comprehensive look. Lopping off money for just three cities suggests partisan motivation.

“It’s easy to make changes in someone else’s district, when it doesn’t impact you…that’s what you see the Republicans doing,” Bakk said. “They don’t have any members in their caucus who represent Minneapolis, St. Paul or Duluth, so they think, ‘Hey! This is a freebie for us.’”

Duluth DFL Rep. Erik Simonson agreed. “What’s the common theme here? Republicans don’t like Democrats, right? That’s gotta be what it is. It can’t just be a metro, because my city isn’t in the metro. It can’t be a first-class city thing, because we didn’t touch Rochester.”

Current LGA formulas aren’t driven only by population, and Democrats noted that hundreds of state cities get more state aid than they would if population was the only driver. The money is distributed under a rather complex formula created in 2013, with aid totaling $517 million this year. Unlike previous years when LGA was reduced, the proposed cuts are coming at a time of revenue surplus.

House Tax Chairman Greg Davids from Preston said he thinks the LGA proposal is justifiable based on the numbers, but said he is open to conversations with the cities. “This debate isn’t done. We will keep working on it. My door is open to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth legislators and their officials.”

Met Council targeted

The proposed LGA reductions are the most-direct — but hardly the only — House actions causing angst among political leaders in the metro area. Many of the proposals at issue are aimed at the Metropolitan Council, the regional entity that does growth, housing and transportation planning and directly delivers transit and sewer services.

The regional body was the target of criticism by Republicans during the 2014 campaign for regional plans the GOP considered too far-reaching, and for a governance structure that insulates the council from local concerns.

There are currently dozens of proposals in the Legislature that attempt to deliver on a GOP campaign pledge to “rein in” the Met Council. Several are aimed at slowing down plans by cities and counties to build new light rail, streetcar and bus rapid transit lines — even though the state’s share of constructing these routes is just 10 percent. (A proposal by Dayton would cut that share to zero if the region is permitted to increase its local sales tax.)

One budget provision, in particular, has drawn the attention of metro area county officials: the rewriting of a pledge made by previous Legislatures to split operating costs of light rail and bus rapid transit lines with the Counties Transportation Improvement Board. The source of the CTIB money is a quarter-cent sales tax in five metro area counties, which was imposed by county commissioners with a promise that it would not supplant existing transit funding, but instead would be used to expand service. The new House proposal would have CTIB pick up the entire cost. 

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin calls the proposal a break of faith with county officials and voters: “We passed the tax. We put our election certificates on the line to expand service. They like to talk about how important local government is but this is a direct assault on local government.”

Metro Transit service would have to be cut

The House’s proposed transportation omnibus bill contains even more pain for the region. It includes none of the mass transit enhancements included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s transportation plan. All told, the Republicans’ plan dedicates $160 million to metro and rural transit over the next decade, while Dayton and Senate Democrats want something closer to $3 billion.

Because of inflationary costs as well as federal and state mandates regarding Metro Mobility, which provides rides to people unable to use regular bus service due disability or health conditions, the Met Council has pointed out that the House’s no-increase-for-mass-transit provision would actually force cuts to Metro Transit service. Regular route service would have to be reduced by 8 percent or $28 million next year, Met Council staff asserts. 

Republican Rep. Mark Uglem of Champlin said the House’s actions aren’t motivated by hostility toward mass transit as much as keeping the promise to emphasize building and maintaining roads and bridges. “I’m a former mayor and I have a degree in urban studies; I understand the need for mass transit,” said Uglem. “I’m not totally against light rail. The trouble is the way it’s managed and put together it’s outrageously expensive. It’s a matter of priorities, and right now I think the priority is roads and bridges, and we are playing catch up with that. We’ve spent billions of dollars on mass transit over the last few years, it’s time to turn our priorities and attention to roads and bridges.”

During the campaign, two specific topics drove the GOP talking points on urban vs. outstate politics — the roads or transit debate and the possible effects of the Thrive 2040 plan.

Thrive 2040 is the Met Council’s most recent 30-year plan, meant to create the overriding policy that guides the council’s plans around transportation, housing, water resources and regional parks. But the plan is viewed by many Republicans as an overreach — a move to assert urban prerogatives on rural and suburban areas. In addition to calls for making these plans advisory on cities and counties, there are bills that would force the Met Council to get legislative approval for most actions and all spending plans.

I’m hopeful that we can have some reform on the Met Council,” said Uglem. “We need to make it a more democratic organization. With the budget that they have of almost $1 billion, the fact that they are unelected political appointees, I don’t think sits well with most people if they really look at it. There’s a top down management style that happens at the Met Council and it needs to be more inclusive.

McLaughlin, a county commissioner since 1991, was pragmatic about the politics. The new House GOP majority is staking out a position before talks with the Democratic Senate and Democratic governor begin in the closing weeks of the session. “This is where I would expect to be on April 20,” he said last week.

He doubts Dayton and Senate leadership would agree to a transportation budget without support for mass transit in the Metro. “I’m very confident in their position,” he said. But if House Republicans stick to their position on transportation, “getting nothing passed is always a possibility.”

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Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/29/2015 - 10:52 am.

    “It’s Not Happening/Now You Know How We Felt”

    I’m confused. First, Speaker Daudt denies the cities are being left behind. Then, he sniffs about how Democrats “ought to open their eyes up to the way that the rest of Minnesota felt over the last two years.”

    Does that mean the rural perception that they were being “left behind” over the last two years was inaccurate, and that they were in fact being treated fairly? If so, doesn’t that mean the Republican electoral strategy of titling towards rural Minnesota based on a fundamentally dishonest premise?

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/29/2015 - 10:59 am.

    This is the problem with the DFL…

    “There was one thing, though, that he didn’t anticipate. The budget proposal the House GOP eventually unveiled didn’t add to LGA. Nor did it freeze it. Instead, the Republicans’ plan actually cut $84 million from the $500 million program.”

    I think it’s simple denial. I’ve been watching this my whole adult life. You have party of ideological hacks and reactionaries and when they do exactly what you’d expect them to do… because they’ve done it every time they get even a little power… the DFL is surprised?

    Time after I’ve seen DFLer’s react with surprise when republicans do what republicans always do and I just don’t get it. Why would Coleman “expect” anything else from the small guvmint people?

    The sad thing is we all end up getting screwed by this DFL denial. The DFL HAD full control, they could have pushed their increases in taxes, transportation funding and bonding, and ALG, but they scaled back their own plans because they were afraid of over-reaching. They always to this. They get elected to do something, then they talk themselves out of doing it because they’re afraid they’ll loose elections… then they lose the elections anyways and we’re stuck half measures and insufficient funding.

    You could’ve fixed the problem and took credit for fixing it but instead you decided not to fix the problem because you’re afraid people won’t vote for the guys who fix problems? You think you can run a more effective campaign on a platform of deciding not to fix problems when you have the chance. And they wonder why they can’t hang onto power when they get it?

    What’s next? Is Coleman going to surprised if the republicans shut down the government?

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 05/01/2015 - 09:38 am.

      And it’s not just a Minnesota problem

      The Democrats all over the country and in Washington seem to act as if their main job is not to offend the Republicans (case in point, apologizing for the Wellstone memorial instead of saying “How dare you small-minded propagandists criticize the presence of politics at a politician’s memorial service?”), and yet the Republicans always act offended whatever the Democrats do, even if what they do is take Mitt Romney’s health insurance system nationwide.

      It started when Reagan began saying “liberal” with a sneer and using it as an insult. Instead of jumping up and declaring “Say it loud! I’m liberal and proud!” the mainstream Democrats crouched down and squeaked, “Nobody here but us moderates! Tell us what to do, and we’ll go along with it in a spirit of bipartisanship.”

      I saw the excuses during the Bush administration. “We have to vote for Bush’s war and Bush’s tax cuts because they’re going to pass anyway with a Republican majority.” Then it was, “We have to vote for Bush’s proposals in the spirit of bipartisanship, and anyway, we don’t have a Democrat in the White House.” Then it was, “We have a Democrat in the White House and control of the House and the Senate for a brief period, but we don’t want to overreach.”

      With that cowardly attitude, the Democrats may as well wear “kick me” signs on their posteriors.

      Note that when the Republicans have power, they take advantage of it, and while individuals may apologize for individual actions, the party as a whole has never apologized for anything that I can recall. Furthermore, their media continue to act as if the present-day Democratic Party “has moved to the far left,” so much so that low-information consumers of right-wing media think that Obama is a Socialist.

      As one long-time local activist said, “I wish!”

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/29/2015 - 11:05 am.

    Coleman’s faith in the electorate’s ignorance is well founded, but facts are facts.

    1. LGA was created to help small, rural towns that didn’t have enough commercial tax base to fund basic municipal services like plowing and street lights.

    2. The lion’s share of LGA now goes to the two largest cities in the state.

    3. There are hundreds of large municipalities that receive $0 in LGA which are doing fine.

    4. Coleman uses his LGA to backfill holes his penchant for creating new high paying positions to reward his cronies with.

    For instance, within 3 blocks a traumatized citizen can seek relief from the state dept of human rights, the county dept of human rights and St. Paul’s own dept of human rights, headed by Coleman’s former chief of staff.

    LGA is low hanging fruit, ripe for picking.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/29/2015 - 01:19 pm.

      LGA

      On first glance it could look like a slight to those cities but I do not think it is. I think Coleman also fails to realize the cities that had a LGA reduction have other sources of money the rest of the cities do not have and should not have been relying on the LGA to start with for the reasons Mr. Swift pointed out.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 04/29/2015 - 02:49 pm.

      Surprisingly all your “facts”

      Are not facts. There are only 55 metro cities that receive no LGA funds and some are small cities. There are some 30 outstate cities that receive no LGA funds but many have less than 1000 or 500 people. There are NOT hundreds of large municipalities receiving no LGA funds. We are propping up many very small cities, which makes no economic sense. Plus I’m surprised that you don’t just call for the end of this socialist policy. I would prefer to send my tax money to the cities that I think are at least viable.

      • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/30/2015 - 08:28 am.

        LGA

        “We are propping up many very small cities, which makes no economic sense. Plus I’m surprised that you don’t just call for the end of this socialist policy. I would prefer to send my tax money to the cities that I think are at least viable.”

        Sorry, but you still have to do it because many cities would fail without the LGA. It would make even less sense to not send the LGA funds to these cities. It actually makes less economic sense to let the cities go bankrupt.

        • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/04/2015 - 01:07 pm.

          The state does not have any

          Duty to prop cities of less than 1000 people for any sane reason

          • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/05/2015 - 11:56 am.

            sane reason

            I guess for the good of the State of MN isn’t good enough for you. The cities <1000 receive very minimal LGA funding as well so not really an issue here.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/29/2015 - 11:07 am.

    Tough choices

    The reason why people want to say that numbers drive policy is that it allows them to evade responsibility for tough policy decisions. In this case, Republicans are saying “we are cutting the money we send to cities, but we are not to blame, for the loss of what the money paid for. That’s the responsibility of local officials.” And more specifically this year, Republicans are in the position of wanting to keep the expensive promises they made during their campaigns, without offending the folks who paid for their campaigns, by raising their taxes.

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/29/2015 - 11:16 am.

    So Do Our Republican Friends Reveal That Their Deeper Motivation

    a NOT concern born of concern, love and respect for those who elected them,…

    (as they implied in their campaigns),…

    but hatred, born of their paranoid fear and resentment,…

    and dare I say outright bigotry,…

    directed at “those people” whom they regard to be

    citizens of the metro area,…

    NONE of whom they actually know, personally,…

    but MOST of whom they viscerally detest.

    I hope my friends and neighbors out here in the rural area are paying attention:

    the Republicans are doing NOTHING to help us,…

    (although they’re trying to make helping their wealthiest friends and business owners with BIG tax cuts,…

    the EXACT people who have no trouble paying their fair share of taxes,…

    and could actually pay far more without missing it -though it would make them MAD as wet hens,..

    sound like the few pennies they’re giving us are supposed to help us),…

    they’re trying to restructure the state’s budget to ensure that when the economy goes back into tougher times in the future, and many MORE of us need help to get buy until times get better, the government will have ZERO resources and be unable to help us.

    Their desire to damage and destroy our state’s major metropolitan areas threatens to diminish our state in embarrassing and completely unnecessary ways,…

    and will, ultimately, damage the rest of us, as well.

    Isn’t it time for those of you Republicans whose motivations are NOT bigotry toward and resentment of those not exactly like you,…

    and who do NOT have a serious case of adolescent “you’re not the boss of me” when it comes to regulations which protect the environment from destruction,…

    and protect you and your friends and neighbors from being financially ripped off,…

    and who do NOT have infantile, “you can’t make me do anything” responses to paying the taxes needed to fund our shared infrastructures (roads, bridges, utility and other business supervision, schools of every level, etc.),…

    take back YOUR party from the nasty folk who have been running it and choosing candidates who only seem to be able to enrich their already-wealthy friends, while working damage and destruction for everyone NOT of that very wealthy “upper crust” who seem to hold their leashes?

  6. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/29/2015 - 11:25 am.

    One word answer

    Yes.

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 04/29/2015 - 11:44 am.

    Let me get this straight when the GOP tries to equalize the payments of LGA to all cities it is political and when DFL’ers want the LGA to continue to pay a much higher rate to Duluth, Mpls & St. Paul (all huge DFL cities) it is not political just good policy.

    Giving 1 billion to Met council without legislative approval for projects just hasn’t worked. Amazing that on the 50 yr anniversary of LBJ’s Great Society, after we have spent Trillions on failed programs to help poor folks get a hand up to improve their station in life, we continue throwing money at it. When Govt is involved the few elites make out well and the many who need help don’t get it. After 50 yrs you would think we may question the results of programs like LGA a bit more before complaining about more money.

    • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/29/2015 - 02:14 pm.

      They aren’t equalizing payments

      They didn’t propose a new formula that was more equal. They just cut St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth because they vote DFL.

  8. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/29/2015 - 12:28 pm.

    I’d like more detail on this statement

    GOP lawmakers say it was numbers, not politics, that drove the LGA change. “We realized…they were being paid significantly more than the average of the rest of the cities throughout the state,” said GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, chair of the House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division. “As a matter of fact, under this bill, those four cities will still be getting more LGA than the average of the rest of the cities in the state.”

    Obviously, larger cities are going to receive larger sums. Is the claim that the funding is disproportionate on a per capita basis, as a percentage of the cities’ budgets, or in some other way?

  9. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/29/2015 - 12:29 pm.

    Reality v LGA historical revisionism/falsehoods

    As expected, the usual characters are already out confusing their self-serving beliefs with reality. Here are the hard facts.

    The LGA program was established in 1972.

    Adjusting per capita LGA by the state GDP deflator, allocations to Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth have changed by the following percentages from 1972 to 2014:

    -65%: Minneapolis
    -59%: St. Paul
    +26%: Duluth

    “The state restricted cities from levying local sales and income taxes and, on the other hand, started supplying substantial amounts of state money for cities to meet increasing demand for services.

    Stated simply, Minnesota’s system aims to keep a lid on property taxes but nonetheless allow cities to provide residents with the services they need. It has done that by spreading money the state gets from income and sales taxes.”

    Make note that it was “scowling” property tax protesters (sound familiar?) who provided the impetus for LGA being established.

    For further background on the origins of the program and supporting data, consult the following sources list.

    Sources:
    http://www.mprnews.org/story/2010/09/09/ground-level-city-budget-101
    http://www.mnhs.org/market/mhspress/minnesotahistory/featuredarticles/v60i08p312-325.pdf
    http://archive.leg.state.mn.us/docs/2011/other/110884.pdf
    http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/lgahist.aspx

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/29/2015 - 02:27 pm.

      Coleman can’t even roll out the old canard that LGA keeps property taxes low because Dayton’s last hike in LGA was followed by, wait for it, a fat property tax hike in St. Paul! Lol, just can’t win some days, can ya?

    • Submitted by joe smith on 04/29/2015 - 07:39 pm.

      Mpls is in the top 10 of highest property tax for major cities and Minnesota is in the top 20 for state property taxes. Doesn’t appear that the LGA program is holding down property taxes much.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/29/2015 - 12:31 pm.

    The deal

    Roughly speaking, there is a historic deal on the table. The cities help the rural areas, the rural areas help the cities. This deal is under pressure every session, and it’s under substantial pressure now, particularly because of the way the 2014 election played out.

    Republicans largely campaigned in greater Minnesota, against the cities. It’s not that they had a lot of specific complaints against the way rural areas had been treated when the legislature was controlled by the DFL. The main issue they talked about was the Senate Office Building, a trivial issue in the larger scheme of things, which certainly didn’t hurt Greater Minnesota, but was a symbolic thing the legislature was arguably doing for the cities. IMO, the below the line issue was gay marriage, which people didn’t talk about much, but which many people in Greater Minnesota viewed as something the cities rammed down their throats. As for specifics in Greater Minnesota, there really wasn’t much of an agenda that was unaddressed by the DFL. We raised appropriations for nursing homes, which is of critical importance in rural Minnesota, appropriations Republicans had either frozen or cut, when they were in a position to do that.

    But that was then, and this is now. Republicans who claimed DFL had neglected Greater Minnesota, now must not neglect it thmeselves and that means finding money. They can’t do it by raising taxes easily, because the folks who fund their campaign are adamantly opposed to any tax increases. So they look to the cities for the cuts needed to generate the money they want to spend to keep their seats. And ordinarily, folks like me would have little problem funding those needs. We did after all support those nursing homes. But that willingness is conditioned on doing things in the cities as well. And it’s certainly the case, that as long as we are in a power position to present it, we won’t allow Greater Minnesotans to fund their promises to their donors at the cities expense. So that’s the drama that’s playing out within the Republican caucus, to find a way to keep the promises that brought them into office, by securing necessary DFL support without alienating their financial backers. It’s been an interesting struggle to watch from the sidelines.

  11. Submitted by Martin Moen on 04/29/2015 - 12:36 pm.

    more data needed

    This is the kind of story that MinnPost’s “Data and Maps” team lives for…at least it should. What is the formula for distributing LGA? What are the pros and cons of a simpler formula? Which cities are getting more or less than the average, as Rep. Drazkowski says when asked to justify changes?

    So, is MinnPost working on this to help voters judge for themselves?

  12. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/29/2015 - 12:54 pm.

    LGA per capita ranking

    In 2014, 770 of 856 Minnesota cities received LGA.

    Here are the rankings out of those 770 cities for the state’s 1st, 2nd, and 5th largest cities. Percentiles in parentheses.

    Minneapolis: 452 (41.4)
    St. Paul: 423 (45.2)
    Duluth: 116 (85.1)

    Note how the two largest cities are below the median, contrary to the widespread mendacious characterizations.

    Reducing LGA from all cities with higher LGA per capita down to the level of Minneapolis (excepting St. Paul and Duluth) would save $89.1 million at 2014 outlays. This is 5.3x more savings than would be achieved by reducing LGA per capita of St. Paul and Duluth to Minneapolis levels. It’s also $5 million more than the proposed GOP cuts.

    But they’re all about “fairness” and “fiscal responsibility”, not pandering, right?

  13. Submitted by Mike Hogan on 04/29/2015 - 02:03 pm.

    Property taxes for business vs. residents in Minneapolis

    It is frustrating to hear Minneapolis elected officials at the legislative level warn that residents will be subjected to higher property taxes if LGA were to be reduced. Yet elected officials at the city level scramble to take some of the most valuable land (stadiums) in the city off the tax rolls permanently.

  14. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/29/2015 - 02:09 pm.

    It’s just a little more complicated

    …than Jay Willemssen’s comment suggests, but I think he has correctly summarized the essence of the argument.

    Does politics play a role? Of course. Having spent more than half a century in a metro area where local, parochial decision-making has crippled any hint of regional planning and prosperity, I’m happy to see a Met Council that actually has the clout to tell some little municipality that what they want isn’t necessarily what’s best for the region, and that the Met Council gets to make that decision, not the local city council.

    And, Mr. Swift’s comment notwithstanding, the goal of LGA funds appears not to have been equality, but equity. Some municipalities are affluent enough not to need LGA assistance, others, not so much. I haven’t done the research, but my hunch is that the per-capita income in the state’s two largest cities is significantly less than it is in Wayzata or Minnetonka, or Rochester. Brooklyn Center needs LGA assistance that Maple Grove does not, and so on. That’s not to say that there aren’t any outstate municipalities that need assistance, too, but practicality plays a role here, as well as politics.

    The only way the GOP can deliver service improvements to outstate Minnesota that it promised without increasing taxes (an article of faith among GOP members) is to cut services elsewhere. There really ain’t no free lunch. It’s a lesson that far too many a politician of the past 35 years or so seems to have either forgotten, or to whom it was never taught in the first place, though it should have been. In this instance, it’s the Republicans who have forgotten it, but it has applied equally well, if not as often, to DFL’ers as well.

    Still, with all that, “Yes” seems pretty good as an answer to the article’s rhetorical question.

  15. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/29/2015 - 03:18 pm.

    Some people aren’t too swift with the truth

    It rolls right off of them.

    LGA per capita to St. Paul under Mark Dayton

    2010 (Pawlenty’s last year): $222

    2014 (Dayton’s 4th year): $209

    Change: -6%

    Of course the decline is even more, adjusted for inflation.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/29/2015 - 04:14 pm.

      Oops! The Minnpost says: Nope.

      https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2013/06/minnesota-mayors-say-lga-changes-finally-will-bring-budget-stability

      2002 was the historical high water mark for slush fund lovers. Dayton pumped it back up as high as he dared, Mayors declared victory…and then hiked property taxes. Lol, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/30/2015 - 09:29 pm.

      And adjusted for population growth?

      With the Fed refusing to raise interest rates due to a lack of inflation, just how much more is the inflation effect?

      Just wondering, does anyone ever look at the results of pouring millions of dollars into various cities? Perhaps if cities could account for massive improvements at great efficiencies they could increase their share of the pie while those that squandered their money had their share reduced.

      Percentages can be interesting, give an extra thousand bucks to a town of 500 people and their LGA increase is 50% if they only got $2000.00 the year before. Now see what 6% is of St.Paul’s total…

  16. Submitted by Mike Downing on 04/29/2015 - 03:40 pm.

    Pendulums swing back and forth. The DFL swung the pendulum towards Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth for decades. The GOP is swinging the pendulum in the direction of outstate MN. I think this is healthy and good for MN!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/29/2015 - 04:04 pm.

      Why?

      It shouldn’t be about taking turns, or who gets theirs now. It should be about meeting the greatest need.

      • Submitted by Mike Downing on 05/03/2015 - 02:05 pm.

        Elitist comment…

        Your elitist comment was shameful. It is elitist to think only Minneapolis and St. Paul are the only ones who have “needs” an d their “needs” are more important than out-state “needs”.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/04/2015 - 01:50 pm.

          Elitist?

          I’ve read and re-read my comment. I can’t find where it says that I think rural areas don’t have needs, or don’t have important needs. Can you please point that out to me?

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/29/2015 - 04:45 pm.

      Two Years

      Does not make “decades”. The 2012 election resulted in the first all-DFL state government since the Perpich years. Amazing hey could accomplish so much without the governor’s office.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/29/2015 - 05:19 pm.

      One of my favorite quotes comes from former St Paul councilman Cy Thao “When you win, you keep your money; when we win, we take your money”

      Guess what party he was aligned with?

      Love that guy

  17. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/29/2015 - 04:48 pm.

    Is This The MN GOP Strategy?

    Since they can’t win a state wide race, their only hope seems to be to hold the House by slamming those heathen from the Cities.

  18. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/29/2015 - 05:16 pm.

    Reading comprehension is an essential life skill

    From Minnpost:
    “06/20/13
    What was delivered was an increase in Local Government Aid….

    An increase of $130 million came out of this legislative session, with $80 million earmarked for cities (LGA), another $40 million for counties (County Program Aid) and still another $10 million for township aid.”

    This is the supposed “proof” for the latest wild claim:
    “Coleman can’t even roll out the old canard that LGA keeps property taxes low because Dayton’s last hike in LGA was followed by, wait for it, a fat property tax hike in St. Paul! Lol, just can’t win some days, can ya?”

    Literate adults are able to distinguish between these two different things. The peanut gallery claim is that LGA was hiked by Dayton for St. Paul, but then St. Paul had a “fat” property tax “hike”.

    The “proof” is a statement about overall funding changes for cities, counties, and townships from 2013 to 2014.

    So going to the LGA Lookup tool of the Minnesota Legislature, one indeed sees an $80 million increase for all Minnesota cities in total from 2013-4. St. Paul’s specific increase over that period was $10 million.

    One can then look for evidence of the “huge” property tax “hike” that supposedly occurred in St. Paul after this. Let’s see.

    “Mayor Coleman announces zero increase in 2014 city property tax levy

    Mayor Chris Coleman outlined a structurally solid 2014 budget with a zero percent property-tax increase for Saint Paul today at his annual budget address.”

    http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=5252

    So, for those playing at home, apparently the term “zero percent increase” is synonymous with “huge hike”, ie, in beliefs unconnected to reality.

    There is no “latest” hike in LGA from Dayton, since LGA is lower than what he inherited from his “fiscally conservative” predecessor. Lowering is not “hiking”. Certified LGA per capita for Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and statewide are all lower than 2010 certified levels.

    Here are the changes in LGA per capita from Pawlenty’s final year to 2014, Dayton’s 4th year and the latest data:

    -16%: Minneapolis
    -6%: St. Paul
    -9%: Duluth
    -7%: Statewide

    That’s enough attention for the provocatively mendacious for now.

  19. Submitted by Mark Ohm on 04/29/2015 - 06:26 pm.

    This seems like an excellent strategy

    to continue the Republican losing streak in statewide office elections.

  20. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/29/2015 - 08:06 pm.

    Profound thanks

    …to Jay Willemssen for making “mendacious” a charitable term when applied to Mr. Swift’s alleged fact-checking. I’ve not been here long enough to have followed the ins and outs of LGA, either its rationale or its funding history, but it certainly seems preferable to communities, via the usual legislative techniques, scratching each others’ eyes out in order to try to remain solvent. Some who complain have no basis for discontent save ideology and/or selfishness. Occasionally, it’s a two-fer and both are at work.

  21. Submitted by Anita Newhouse on 04/29/2015 - 10:47 pm.

    Chicago it is then

    Well this makes one (maybe many) decisions alot easier. When I communicate with the outfitter up on the Gunflint about NOT making it up there this summer/year, I will definitely let them know that we need to stick closer to home and you know, take care of our own. We will spend the $2,400 or so we set aside for travel/outfitting, etc. around the Metro so at least the local taxes we pay will go back into our local economy. And since the Metro will always support the rest of the state due to our higher tax revenues, if others make similar travel decisions maybe outstate will start to see who the real takers are in the MN economy. Whenever the MN GOP starts preaching their gospel, I just want to get out of here anyway. So this summer, Chicago it is then.

  22. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/30/2015 - 06:09 am.

    Does politics play a role?Of

    Does politics play a role?

    Of course it does. Party and ideology aside, Greater Minnesota legislators need to deliver for their very expensive while not raising the taxes that would otherwise pay for it. It’s a very complicated and very political task, one that flies in the face of the laws of arithmetic we learned in the third grade. They have my sympathy. Indeed they would have my support in what they want to do for their constituents.. I am willing to pay for some of it. But not all of it.

  23. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/30/2015 - 07:02 am.

    By the way

    While it is true that the House GOP as a whole, or at least the folks who financed it, campaigned against the cities, the fact is that there are a number of Republicans who aren’t pitting themselves against the cities. Campaigning aside, they understand that it’s not a zero sum game out there, that hurting cities doesn’t help Greater Minnesota. Quite the contrary actually. Those are the House Republicans who are out there trying to sooth their fellow Republicans while also trying to make their separate deals with Democrats.

  24. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 04/30/2015 - 12:00 pm.

    Minor correction

    “Lopping off money for just three cities suggests partisan motivation” Replace ‘suggests’ with ‘confirms’ and you’ve hit the nail on the head. The supposed anti-outstate bias was never supported by the actual numbers. In fact, it’s quite clear that outstate Minnesota has been subsidized by the metro region…again, if you look at the numbers. The GOP inflamed unsupported bias for electoral advantage, plain and simple. They have no real ideas to run on, otherwise they would run on them.

  25. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 04/30/2015 - 02:39 pm.

    outstate vs metro

    I think the people who think investing in rural MN is a bad idea and cutting the LGA for rural cities need to come to the realization that just because the metro has a bigger share of the economy and business in MN does not mean it is the only place we should be sticking our money. Ever hear the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”?

  26. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/01/2015 - 09:13 am.

    Greater Minnesota

    Okay, there are a lot of us who believe, deep in our hearts, that sustaining Greater Minnesota is pretty darn expensive. If a lot of market forces, so beloved by our Republican friends, were allowed to operate in ways that were unrestrained, there might far less of a Greater Minnesota in the future than there is today. It’s Democrats, not Republicans, who are on the whole, friendly to investment in Greater Minnesota. When Greater Minnesota Republicans seek larger subsidies for their districts, it’s Democrats, not their fellow Republicans, that they seek to deal.

    One of the things I do is sit in meetings where education issues are discussed. I am no particular expert on education issues, and in any event, nobody listens to me anyway, which does allow me to endlessly repeat my one or two thoughts on the issue. One of those thoughts is that we as Minnesotans, have an obligation to provide every child with an opportunity to get a great education, no matter where that child lives. For parents who are always concerned, justifiably by the way, with the education their own kid receives, that isn’t always the most popular view around. But I can tell that the view that isn’t popular at all, that is in fact always a non starter, is that suburban and urban kids should sacrifice, to the benefit of kids in Greater Minnesota. Let me say something that is both truth and political reality. Whether the issue is education, health care, transportation or anything else, we are all in this together. It doesn’t work any other way.

  27. Submitted by Joe Smithers on 05/06/2015 - 02:17 pm.

    nothing more devisive

    than what rep. Erhardt did yesterday. He made a fool of himself and caused further divide. Time to put the petty finger pointing to rest and actually do something.

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