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.
This is not specific to Minneapolis – any local government in Minnesota will be vulnerable to having its aid payments reduced under this bill. 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 Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, released the following statement:
“During times of need, we come together as Minnesotans. Minnesota’s cities and counties work together every day with no expectations of reimbursement. This bill could encourage cities to begin charging each other for emergency assistance to offset the lost revenue created by this legislation.
“This is just another attack against Minneapolis. By supporting this legislation, Senate Republicans will hinder communities across the state from receiving much needed aid in times of crisis like floods, fires, or even events such as the shooting in Buffalo earlier this month.”
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.