Greater Minnesota cities push Legislature for more money

By: - January 9, 2023 2:53 pm

Children at Bright Future Child Care in Brooklyn Center. Courtesy photo.

Greater Minnesota’s cities announced their priorities for this year’s legislative session on Monday: More local government aid, changes to disability pensions and improving access to housing and child care.

The cities want to use 2020 census data to update the formula that determines how much money each city gets under Minnesota’s local government aid (LGA) program. They called for $105 million more in LGA funding, citing rising costs due to inflation. The outstate cities also want a public works bill to support city projects, including wastewater, transportation and removing lead pipes. 

Disability claims are hammering city budgets, they said. The cities want the state to provide more funds to the Public Safety Officer Benefit Program, which reimburses cities and counties for disability claims. Last year, 80% of the claims were not reimbursed by the state, said Bradley Peterson, executive director of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Funding for disability claims is a relatively new issue related to the surge in police officers making disability claims after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.  

Aside from more funding, greater Minnesota cities want to participate in the disability claim verification process and bring in independent medical providers to verify claims. Shaunna Johnson, city administrator of Waite Park, said the system is “extremely exploitable.” 

The cities say their major employers are struggling to hire workers because of the shortage of child care and housing.  Peterson said cities are losing child care providers at a faster rate than the Twin Cities — and that greater Minnesota is already short more than 40,000 child care spots. 

The cities want policies that will help increase child care capacity and support public infrastructure needed for housing development. They also want more money funneled into the Workforce Housing Development Program, which targets small-to-medium cities for rental workforce housing needs. 

Cities are already working on legislation related to these issues — bills will be introduced soon, Peterson said. 

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Grace Deng
Grace Deng

Grace Deng is a reporting intern with the Minnesota Reformer. They're in their final year at Northwestern University, where they study journalism, legal studies and Asian American Studies. The Seattle native has previously been a statehouse intern with USA TODAY Network Ohio and an editorial fellow with Washingtonian Magazine.