The research department for the Minnesota House has updated the LGA run for the House Tax Bill with new inflation and population numbers. As a result, the overall LGA increase in the Tax Bill has decreased from $13 million to 10 million. The updated run can be found here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/LGAh3167.pdf.

CGMC Board members Bruce Ahlgren, mayor of Cloquet, and Tom Stiehm, mayor of Austin, wrote a guest column calling on Governor Dayton and the state Senate to take initiative this legislative session on issues that are important to Greater Minnesota. The column was submitted to newspapers throughout the state, and it has already been published in the Bemidji Pioneer, Austin Daily Herald and Detroit Lakes Tribune.

Click here to read their column.

The following is a press release that was sent to media outlets throughout the state today:

With passage of the Senate tax bill Thursday, the priorities of the House, Senate and Governor are in clear focus.

The Minnesota House has developed a rural agenda that includes funding for broadband expansion, an increase in local government aid (LGA), and creation of a pilot job training program. By contrast, the Senate passed a tax bill and supplemental budget that is completely silent on key priorities for Greater Minnesota.

Likewise, these issues were absent from the Governor’s supplemental budget, though Governor Dayton recently said he is “willing to agree” to new funding for broadband.

“We are looking for more than a willingness to agree. We expect leadership from the Governor on broadband and other issues that are important to Greater Minnesota,” said Randy Wilson, mayor of Glencoe and president of the CGMC. “So far this session the Minnesota House has been the one arm of state government to lead with a rural agenda.”

With significant surpluses available, now is the time for the Legislature and Governor to continue its commitment to the LGA program and invest in 21st century infrastructure such as broadband for unserved and underserved areas of the state.

“The 2014 session has seen a flurry of activity on tax relief, minimum wage, anti-bullying legislation and a new Senate Office Building,” said Wilson. “With session quickly coming to a close, we call on the Governor and Senate to join with the House to advance initiatives that will strengthen Greater Minnesota communities.”

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Late in the day on Friday, April 4, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed its second tax bill off the floor. The bill includes an appropriation adjustment for LGA based on inflation and population growth, which would mean a $13.1 million increase to the LGA program for calendar year 2015. The LGA increase remained in the final bill despite a floor amendment from Rep. Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pine) that would have removed the LGA provisions. Rep. Runbeck withdrew her amendment from consideration after only a few minutes of debate and no vote was taken on it. The House’s second tax bill can been read here.

The Senate is expected to unveil its tax bill Monday and vote it out of committee Tuesday. It is unlikely that the Senate version will include an LGA increase and the issue will need to be worked out in conference committee.

Although it feels like this winter may never end, it is already time to start planning the CGMC’s 2015 Summer Conference. Since the 2014 event is scheduled to be held in Rochester, we are looking for a northern city to host the summer conference in 2015. A request for proposals has been emailed to the mayors and city managers of CGMC member cities located in the central and northern parts of the state. For more information about the CGMC Summer Conference or for a copy of the RFP, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com. Proposals are due by May 1, 2014.

Late yesterday, the House Property and Local Sales Tax Division unveiled its division report, which contains its plan for Local Government Aid in 2015 and beyond. Despite calls to return program funding to 2002 levels, the House has gone back to last year’s proposal to include an appropriation adjustment every year based on inflation and population growth. For 2015, this would mean an increase of about $14.5 million over 2014 levels. Below is a link to the House Research run for each city.

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/lgadiv.pdf

Please check this site again and read the CGMC in Brief on Thursday for updates on this quickly evolving situation.

“The need for broadband is long overdue; now is the time to act. Given the importance of the issues and years of talk, it is perplexing that Governor Dayton failed to dedicate a portion of the surplus to enhance broadband speed and accessibility across Minnesota. Greater Minnesota leaders from business, local government, education and the non-profit community, as well as the Governor’s own Broadband Task Force, all agree that a $100 million investment this year would go a long way to ensuring Minnesota’s competitiveness in the 21st Century. The state can no longer afford to ignore Greater Minnesota’s top economic development priority.”

“We are also disappointed that the Governor did not seek to follow up on the success of 2013 by adding additional funds to the Local Government Aid Program (LGA). As can be seen across Greater Minnesota, property taxes have been significantly restrained and neglected infrastructure and public safety needs are finally getting the attention they deserve. Without additional funds from the Governor and Legislature this year, that progress will stagnate.”