Editorial: LGA, and the budget's big pictureIt’s no secret that Minnesota’s Local Government Aid (LGA) program has taken a beating over the last few years.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
It’s no secret that Minnesota’s Local Government Aid (LGA) program has taken a beating over the last few years. Since 2002, according to the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), the state has slashed LGA by a total of more than $1 billion, which in turn has helped increase property taxes by more than 60 percent. So much for Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s much-ballyhooed no-new-taxes philosophy — the buck is merely being passed.
We have long been opposed to LGA cuts, and the reason is simple. The program helps communities with lower tax bases, such as Worthington and many others across Greater Minnesota, have access to essential services at prices affordable for property taxpayers. It’s therefore no coincidence that as LGA has been reduced, local taxes have increased — and services reduced, as well, in several instances.
It isn’t just the reduction of LGA that is unfair, however. The CGMC recently noted that even though city aid programs only comprise 3.4 percent of the state budget, the 2010 LGA cuts made up more than 16 percent of this year’s budget reductions. And, with an estimated $5 billion (or more) deficit expected for the next legislative session, the expectation of further cuts looms on the horizon.
In an election year, we can anticipate any or all candidates coming forward with ideas on how to reduce the tremendous deficit. Many will likely tout what may appear to be dramatic reform plans. But voters, as well as the media, owe it to themselves to learn how each suggested cut affects the budget as a whole. This way, we can make sure — among other things — that 3.4 percent doesn’t again translate to 16 percent.