It’s always a punch to the gut to speak up on something you think is especially important, only to find that what you had to say fell on deaf ears.

    It’s always a punch to the gut to speak up on something you think is especially important, only to find that what you had to say fell on deaf ears.
    That level of dejection has to be sort of like what the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities leadership is feeling these days. One would certainly assume that, just speaking of geography alone, the CGMC is one of the most influential and significant voices that bends legislators’ ears in St. Paul. But maybe that assumption is wrong. Maybe legislators in the Minnesota House and Senate, both led by Republican majorities, aren’t breaking a sweat over the CGMC’s protest of how the legislature, once again, appears determined to botch the end of yet another session in laughable, even embarrassing fashion.
    Will we witness another session that fails to pass a bonding bill that injects needed investments in projects across Minnesota? Will a tax bill whither and die once again, along with the latest attempt to put some real and consistent funding in critically needed transportation projects across the state?
    And what about Local Government Aid? You know about LGA, right? If you don’t and you call Crookston home, know that it’s one of the most important acronyms you’ll see around these parts. There may be no other city in Minnesota with a budget more dependent on LGA than Crookston, considered a particularly challenged community when it comes to the amount of property tax revenue it generates each year.
    The legislature slashed LGA around 15 years ago, and the CGMC and other stakeholders who realize that Minnesota’s borders extend beyond the Twin Cities and their suburbs have been scratching and clawing to get LGA back to its pre-slash funding levels. The CGMC for a couple years has been seeking a permanent, $45.5 million LGA increase that would bring funding back to 2002 levels, but the House and Senate joint tax bill includes only a $6 million increase for 2018, and it’s only for 2018. The bill would have LGA revert back to its 2017 funding level the year after that, which, on the surface seems to be complete nonsense.
    It looks like when Republicans run the legislature and there’s a budget surplus year after year after year, Republicans want to limit most new or even critically necessary spending in favor of tax cuts that mostly benefit their friends and contributors.
    It makes you wonder who truly has these people’s ears. Who do they really feel the need to listen to and, more importantly, answer to? If what would seem to be a well-meaning organization like the Coalition for Greater Minnesota Cities, with all of its apparent clout, can’t get these legislators to listen, then...yikes.
    Rural Republican legislators late last week said that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has declared “war” on Minnesota farmers for the buffer law and other farm-related legislation they disagree with. Really...war? Let’s stop throwing around that word so casually, shall we? Have these same Republican legislators declared war on Minnesota cities like Crookston with their apparent anti-LGA attitude? No, but they sure are risking a lot of alienation among voters across the state, so many of whom call CGMC-member cities home.