On the Senate floor today, Senate Republicans passed a bill that will cut public safety budgets by penalizing communities that receive 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, despite Republicans’ having cited efforts to act in a punitive fashion towards Minneapolis.
In response, Senator Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, released the following statement:
“Despite the Senate Republican message, this bill responds in no way to next month’s trial and does not address the unrest that happened in my community from last summer. Instead, Senate Republicans are using this opportunity to attack the core value that Minnesotans look out for and take care of one another, and to launch an untrue, divisive, resent-filled, coded race-based attack on Minneapolis, while damaging communities across the state in the process.
“This bill will penalize communities that have LGA funds, making it more difficult for our communities to help each other in times of need by adding a layer of bureaucracy to a system that already has proven to work well. Emergencies can happen anywhere. We’ve seen it during fires and flood across our state. Senate Republicans have once again played partisan politics instead of supporting Minnesotans. We shouldn’t be making it more difficult for Minnesotans to receive the help when they need it.”
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.