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Minnesota Opinion: On local government aid

An excerpt from recent editorials in Minnesota newspapers.

On local government aid

Mayors in Minnesota whose cities received Local Government Aid have issued a call for citizens to ask their gubernatorial candidates where they stand on the issue of LGA, which has been a target for state budget cuts the past couple of years.

The call was issued through the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities, which has been vocal about this issue ever since it became an issue.

LGA is state payments to cities that lack the tax base to raise as much money as wealthier communities. It is intended to help cities offer basic services without overburdening the property tax payer.

The mayors point out that the state has cut or unallotted hundreds of millions of dollars in LGA funds since 2003. The effect has been higher property taxes for affected cities. From 2002 to 2009, city property taxes have increased 64 percent, and real per capita revenue in cities is down 12 percent.

The mayors want citizens to "hold candidates feet to the fire" on the issue of LGA.

We think the issue should be expanded. We should be asking our gubernatorial candidates how they propose to balance the state's budget in the face of mouting deficits in a way that is fair to all, and spreads the pain evenly.

If the candidates say we should cut state spending and services, they should be ready to say where they will cut and how it will affect Minnesotans. If the candidates want to raise taxes, they should be ready to specify who will pay and how much.

Yes, LGA is part of the budget mix. But it is not the only part. We'd prefer to see a comprehensive plan from our candidates.

-- New Ulm Journal