Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weathering the coming storm
If current forecasts are to be believed, it appears that thousands of snow plow drivers and public safety personnel in Minnesota will be spending Christmas weekend working overtime. Please take a moment this holiday season to thank a local police officer, firefighter, or snow plow operator for all they do to keep us safe and to keep our streets and highways running smoothly in adverse conditions. Though they would likely prefer to be home with their families for the holidays, these dedicated public employees provide vital services (24/7/365) that we often take for granted.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who's who for 2010?
For political junkies, a list of current and former Minnesota city officials who intend to seek state-level offices in 2010. (Compiled by a colleague at the League of Minnesota Cities)

State Constitutional Offices
Pat [Awada] Anderson, once an Eagan Mayor, running for Governor. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, running for Governor. Randy Gilbert, Mayor of Long Lake, running for State Auditor .

State Legislature HD 10B – Former Wadena Council Member Pete Phillips (ended council service 12/31/2008) is making a second run for MN House in 2010. HD 14A - Sartell Mayor Tim O’Driscoll filed paperwork to run for the Republican nomination for the state House of Representatives seat held by Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids. SD 26 - Waseca businessman Mike Parry is seeking the Republican endorsement in an upcoming special election to fill District 26 seat vacated by Sen. Dick Day. Parry served on Waseca’s City Council from 2004 to 2008. HD 37B – Rosemount City Council Member Kurt Bills has announced his intent to become the Republican candidate for the 37B House of Representatives seat in 2010. SD48 – Nowthen City Council Member Laurie Olmon is running for State Senate in 2010 for Senate District 48 against Mike Jungbauer. SD53 - Blake Huffman, Shoreview City Council Member, intends to run for state office, most likely State Senate or State Representative.

You can also link to the list of current legislators with city ties on the League's website

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cities get reprieve from additional December aid cuts...but what next?
In a letter sent to the League of Minnesota Cities earlier today, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that he will not use unallotment to further reduce or delay December local government aid (LGA) and market value homestead credit (MVHC) payments scheduled for cities and counties.

The decision followed a meeting last Friday at the League offices where representatives from the League and other city organizations met with Department of Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess to express concern about the state budget deficit and the status of the Governor’s response.

This is indeed good news for cities that have had aid and credit payments cut twice, already, in the past 12 months. As noted many times in this blog, city councils in the state have responded to these cuts by making their own cuts to city service budgets – particularly in public safety (police and fire), public works (streets and sewers), and parks and recreation departments. But, unless there is sudden and dramatic improvement in the state’s economy, more city service cuts could be on the way. And, more city personnel could lose jobs.

In the letter received today, the Governor made clear that the state is still facing a serious $1.2 billion projected budget deficit that will require significant remedial action by the 2010 legislature. He also warned that 2010 aid and credit payments to cities could yet be additionally reduced to address the deficit, but he indicated that he would work with legislative leaders to develop a response to the projected deficit.

There is no quick or easy answer to solving our state’s budget crisis. But cities have been called upon time-and-time again to bear a disproportionate contribution to the solution. The 2010 Legislative Session looms as an important one for the future of funding city services in our state.