Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Dispelling LGA’s urban myth

Published (1/28/2011)
By Lee Ann Schutz
Share on: 

Once termed a great equalizer of services offered by communities across the state, local government aid, or LGA as it is commonly known, has become complicated to understand.

During a recent overview by the nonpartisan House Research Department, Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) said, “You are trying to teach us college algebra and I’m looking for a solution that requires fifth-grade math.”

But it’s the purpose for which LGA was created in 1971 that was on the minds of several new members to the House Property and Local Tax Division Jan. 25. No action was taken.

“Being a former mayor, I’ve heard the urban legend, if you will, that it was for infrastructure, especially for public safety, especially fire protection,” said Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano).

House Research Analyst Pat Dalton said that, as far as she could determine, the Legislature put no limits on how the money could be spent.

“It was to help make sure that all cities could meet their general service needs,” she said, adding that the Legislature, over the years, has discussed tying the aid formula to public safety and infrastructure needs.

“I know one of the big discussions has been, ‘What is the purpose of LGA?’ My answer to that is the purpose of LGA is whatever you all decide is the purpose of LGA,” she said.

A major revision to LGA in 2003 was criticized for being too volatile and not meeting the needs of certain cities, such as suburbs, according to Dalton’s report. Reforms in 2008 addressed some of the complaints.

Division Chairwoman Linda Runbeck (R-Circle Pines) is organizing an LGA working group to revisit the LGA formula and criteria.

Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth), who chaired the division the last four years, said that starting any discussion about a LGA overhaul should not begin on a false premise.

He affirmed that it was intended for property tax relief and to support basic services. “LGA was not started to deal with law enforcement as a specific thing.”

Rep. Ann Lenczewski (DFL-Bloomington), former House Taxes Committee chairwoman, said the LGA formula needs revision; noting, that it may be a politically difficult decision for some, especially for members in districts where communities rely heavily on the state aid.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Tax trio trifecta
One makes it to law, but tax chair steamed over veto of ‘smokin’ hot’ tax bill
(view full story) Published 5/25/2012

Tax bill moves through House
Critics say business-targeted tax relief will create long-term funding deficit
(view full story) Published 3/23/2012

New spending hinged on ‘tobacco bonds’
Tax law highlights include flood relief and new science and technology initiative
(view full story) Published 8/11/2011

Two views on taxes
Tax proposals showcase gap to smooth end of session
(view full story) Published 5/20/2011

All things local
Local option sales tax debate heats up as aid to cities decreases
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Handcuffs or opportunity
Omnibus tax bill’s debate highlights each party’s priorities
(view full story) Published 4/1/2011

Sales in the clouds
Governor calls for sales taxes for some online purchases and services
(view full story) Published 2/25/2011