Below is a press release that was sent to media outlets throughout the state today. A PDF version is available here.
For Immediate Release
April 27, 2015
Contact: Julie Liew
Senate tax bill delivers for Greater Minnesota
Pro-LGA bill comes in stark contrast to House plan
ST. PAUL—The Minnesota Senate demonstrated a commitment to strengthening Greater Minnesota communities by including a provision in its tax bill that would increase funding for the Local Government Aid (LGA) program.
The Senate tax bill, which was released this morning, increases LGA funding by $45.5 million over two years. This increase would restore funding for the LGA program back to the level it was at in 2002, a benchmark that city leaders in Greater Minnesota say needs to be met in order to adequately fund critical services like police and fire protection, libraries, and street repair and maintenance.
“We are extremely grateful that the Senate is advocating for a funding increase for the LGA program,” said Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities President and Ely City Councilor Heidi Omerza. “With the current budget surplus, legislators have a chance to help communities across the state by bringing LGA funding back to where it was at 13 years ago. I’m glad the leaders in the Senate are seizing this opportunity.”
The decision by the DFL-controlled Senate to increase LGA funding comes in stark contrast to the tax bill proposed by House Republicans. Their version released last week would cut $85 million from the LGA program by reducing the LGA appropriation to the “first class cities” of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth and freeze the total LGA appropriation for other cities. Governor Mark Dayton also failed include any new funding for LGA in his budget proposal.
In addition to the LGA increase, Omerza noted that the Senate tax bill includes several other provisions that are good for Greater Minnesota, including $19 million for workforce housing tax credits, positive modifications to the Greater Minnesota internship tax credit program, and improvements to law that will make it easier for rural cities to obtain high-quality Internet service.
“The Senate tax bill is pro-LGA and pro-rural communities,” Omerza said. “The Senate has stepped up to the plate for Greater Minnesota, now we urge the House and Governor to do the same.”
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 85 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC online at greatermncities.org.