Out of Control Lobbyists!

According to the Minnesota Legislative Auditor, local governments spent a total of $8.7 million on lobbying activities in 2018.  WOW!  Your taxes at work (not).

Your taxes are being used to apply pressure on the Legislature to pass the laws local governments want.

Here are some stats:

113 local governments directly employ lobbying staff or hired contract lobbyists and spent $4.5 million in 2018.

11 of the 113 local governments that directly employ lobbying staff or hired contract lobbyist reported over $100,000 in lobbying expenditures for a total of $1.9 million in 2018.

Local governments paid dues of $12.5 million in 2018 to local government Associations.  Those associations spent $4.1 million on lobbyists and lobbying in 2018.

Among the 25 local government Associations 13 reported expenditures on lobbying or lobbyists in excess of $100,000 in 2018.

Just to put it in perspective, an example is the City of Moorhead.  The population of Moorhead is 38,065.

Moorhead hired one lobbying staff person at a salary and benefits of $54,673 and two law firm’s totaling $65,340.  Moorhead’s total lobbying expenditures were $123,192.

The city of St. Louis Park hired two law firms for total lobbying expenditure of $51,000.

In addition to lobbying, cities belong to local government Associations that also pay lobbyists to sway the opinions of Legislators to favor local government.  That is not necessarily swaying them FOR taxpayers’ benefit.

Here’s an example of Association dues cities pay:

My city, New Brighton pays dues to three separate government agencies (as most cities also do):

The Association of Metropolitan Municipalities $7,702 ($2,411 used for lobbying)

The League of Minnesota Cities $18,180 ($1,818 used for lobbying)

The North Metro Mayors Association $10,339 ($6,865 for lobbying)

That brings the total DUES to $36,221 with $11,094 used specifically for lobbying.

School Districts are paying Association dues as well:

The Association of Metropolitan School Districts

The Minnesota School Boards Association

Independent School District 621 (Mounds View) paid total dues of $26,074 ($11,707 for lobbying)

Independent School District 622 (N. St. Paul/Maplewood) paid total dues of $25,917 ($11,712 for lobbying)

Independent School District 623 (Roseville) paid total dues of $22,453 ($10,060 for lobbying).

I could go on and on but I just want you to know that your local governments are spending a ton of tax money on lobbying and it isn’t going to turn out to favor taxpayers.

The Legislative Auditor’s Report on expenditures by Associations says that:

The League of Minnesota Cities spent $3,253,320 on lobbying;

North Metro Mayors Association spent $189,937 on lobbying;

The Association of Minnesota Counties spent $1,356,055 on lobbying;

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent $1,305,804 on lobbying.

That’s just a few of the expenditures by Associations the grand total was $12,493,014–that’s outrageous.

My city, New Brighton has a Legislative Priorities outline (I’m certain your city does too) that lists all the things that they will pay their lobbyists to apply pressure on the Legislature to either pass or not pass into law.  Some of the items include:

OPPOSE levy limits and reverse referendum bills (they don’t want citizens to have any way to stop huge tax levy increases).

Of course, SUPPORT continued and increase funding for municipal state aid contributions.

SUPPORT continued funding of Local Government Aid (LGA) is also on their list because it’s just such a critical funding source.

OPPOSE any reverse referendum on Franchise Fees (you know that they collect franchise fees (ANOTHER TAX) on your utilities). They oppose this because that’s a way that local property owners can voice their opinion.  If the Omnibus tax bill had passed in 2018 every five years the city would need to communicate the current franchise fee agreement and allow citizens to generate a ballot petition and if the minimum number of signatures were achieved the citizens of the city would be asked to vote on the approval to continue collecting the franchise fee tax.

SUPPORT legislation to ensure the continued financial health of the fire relief Association

SUPPORT election laws that help the city but OPPOSE allowing citizens to petition for referendums and any legislation that would place an undue burden on the city. 

SUPPORT legislation that allows and promotes the construction of housing that accommodates all income levels which local decision-makers deem adequate and appropriate.  (Of course, they are the decision-makers.)

SUPPORT providing funding for local renewable resource initiatives.

SUPPORT maintaining the existing successful relationships especially the support of Community Partners in Youth and the Ralph reader food shelf.

I hope you start looking into how your Cities, School Boards and Counties are spending your tax dollars.  I assure you, it will be enlightening!  Remember, local governments don’t have money except what they take from us.

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