CGMC opposes LGA cuts in Tax Conference Report

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities strongly objects to the LGA cuts from certified amounts contained in the Tax Conference Committee Report that was passed last night. These reductions will only further accelerate the trend of increasing taxes and declining services that face communities across the state. CGMC also strongly opposes the phase out of LGA for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth. These communities are being phased out of the program in an arbitrary manner, which significantly undercuts the purpose of the LGA program to equalize for property tax base disparities across the state irrespective of where those cities are located. We have taken note of the comments of Rep. Runbeck, that this is “the beginning of the phase-out of LGA” and this statement seems to be coming true. CGMC urges legislative leaders to pull back from this position so that in the future we can have a fair and objective discussion about LGA that includes all cities.

Local chambers of commerce hold press conference to support LGA and new revenue

Yesterday, representatives of eight local chambers of commerce from across the state held a press conference at the state Capitol urging lawmakers and the governor to support local government aid and reach an overall budget compromise that protects this vital program. According to Randy Kehr, Executive Director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, “Property taxes make up the largest share of taxes that businesses pay and those property taxes have steadily increased over the last decade, particularly in greater Minnesota.” Local business leaders also said that, “A compromise must include both cuts and an increase in state revenues.”

Local chambers participating in the press conference were Albert Lea-Freeborn County, Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Crookston Chamber of Commerce, Duluth Chamber of Commerce, Laurentian Area Chamber of Commerce (Virginia, Eveleth, Mt. Iron, and Gilbert), Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce, Wadena Chamber of Commerce, and Worthington Chamber of Commerce. See the entire press release at www.thanklga.org .

Senate legacy bill ensures fair funding for parks and trails in greater Minnesota

The CGMC strongly favors the Senate’s version of the Legacy bill with respect to Parks & Trails funding.   Both the House and Senate dedicate funding to metropolitan regional parks, but only the Senate version dedicates a portion to regional parks in greater Minnesota.

Some have objected to this dedication because state parks also receive funds and many are located in greater Minnesota.  That’s not a fair comparison, however. When apportioning regional parks and trails funding, the comparison should be made between metropolitan and greater Minnesota regional parks-the funding to state parks should be examined separately.  State parks are statewide resources.  For example, when the Lake Vermillion state park was established last year over the objections of some local legislators, its proponents argued that the park would be a crown jewel for the entire state.

Moreover, many counties in Minnesota, such as Sterns, Benton, Meeker and others, have no state parks located within them.  Just like metropolitan regional parks, greater Minnesota regional parks provide recreational opportunities to many communities who don’t have ready access to the state parks.

Under the current House version of the bill, it is possible that greater Minnesota regional parks and trails could receive none of the competitive grant funding.  The Senate bill simply guarantees that greater Minnesota regional parks and trails will receive a portion of the funding, a portion that is quite a bit smaller than the metropolitan share.

The legacy amendment was passed by citizens across the state and is funded by citizens across the state.  The legislature should support the efforts of local governments everywhere to continue building healthy strong communities that include regional recreational opportunities.