On the Senate floor today, Senate Republicans passed a bill that will cut public safety budgets by penalizing communities that have Local Government Aid (LGA). The state distributes LGA to cities across Minnesota for general purposes, and it is used by cities to provide basic community services, such as public safety, fire and public works. It has also been used as a mechanism to offer cities property tax relief.
The adjustments to the LGA is not a companion to the SAFE Account and does not contain language that will help plan for the George Floyd murder trial that will take place next month in Minneapolis. It also does not contain language to address the civil unrest that happened in Minneapolis or Saint Paul from last summer.
In response, Senator Ann Rest, DFL Lead on the Taxes Committee, released the following statement:
“In Minnesota, there are currently 102 cities, including our largest suburbs, that do not receive LGA. Senate Republicans have not given examples of how these 102 communities will be able to receive any help during times of need if they don’t have the available aid. Our state’s law enforcement leaders have said this could impose a chilling effect on calls for mutual aid, if cities must begin to worry about LGA-supported budgets if they request help.
“This bill makes it very difficult for our communities to help each other in times of crisis by adding an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to a system we know already works well in our state. Senate Republicans have decided that communities shouldn’t have to support each other or come together in times of need.”
In response to SF 749, the Senate DFL offered two amendments in an attempt to meet LGA’s unmet needs and hold communities harmless. The first one was a dispute resolution that would delete the language of SF 749 and put forth a process that communities could use to resolve outstanding bills, should there ever be an issue. The second amendment would increase LGA and County Program Aid across the state. Increasing state aids to meet local government’s unmet needs would provide more resources for cities to hire emergency personnel and support local services. It also would offset the detrimental effects of this bill and potentially prevent cities from having to raise property taxes. Both amendments failed due to the lack of support by the Senate Republicans.