Tom Emmer wants to eliminate Local Government Aid
- Margaret Anderson Kelliher (Bemidji Pioneer, May 25, 2010)
- Kelliher press conference 6/22/2010
- Mark Dayton (Star Tribune, May 2, 2010)
- Tim Flaherty, lobbyist for Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (Bemidji Pioneer, June 15, 2010)
Tom Emmer is the author of the Minnesota Fair Plan, a bill that would institute a new program to replace (not eliminate) the current system of local government aid (LGA). The Bill was HF 339 of the 86th Legislative Session of the Minnesota Legislature.
The Minnesota Fair Plan would eliminate the current practice of allocating LGA resources by city, a process that has proven rife with political wrangling, with a more equitable system of pooling LGA resources by county and placing responsibility for the distribution of such funds to the county commission. This is hardly the equivalent of “eliminating LGA.” The transition from the current system to the new system is designed to take place over several years, to allow city councils to adjust to the Minnesota Fair Plan.
The base level of LGA will be reduced to 40% of the 2009 level for cities over three years with the balance of the funds given to counties to distribute among any and all of the localities within their county as they see fit. The total amount of LGA available will continue to be determined by the legislature. The amount for the current fiscal year listed in the bill was $526,148,487; or just over a half billion dollars.
Half a billion dollars is hardly an “elimination of LGA.” Anyone saying that is not telling the truth.
Rep. Emmer’s reasoning for altering the current system of LGA is simple: county commissions are closer to the cities in question than the state legislature, and hence better equipped to determine where the LGA can best be spent. It is irrational to have members of the legislature from northern Minnesota, Minneapolis, or even Delano decide the precise amount of LGA that Worthington or Owatonna are allocated.
LGA exists to ensure that everybody in the State of Minnesota has access to basic services, especially police and fire protection, regardless of where they live. In many instances, it has strayed from that purpose to become just another pot of money for cities to balance their budgets and pay for “extras.” HF 339 was intended to correct that inequity and to ensure that government delivers the basic services citizens expect.
HF 339 is a common-sense solution for all Minnesotans, not a draconian elimination of LGA.