BEMIDJI -- Positive strides have been made with Local Government Aid this year, but more progress is needed in future legislative sessions, Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday.
Speaking with Greater Minnesota reporters in a teleconference Tuesday, Walz noted the increases to Local Government Aid and County Program Aid in the 2019 legislative session. In bills signed at the end of session, LGA was set to increase to $564 million and CPA to $260 million, returning those programs to 2002 levels, both high marks for the funding.
Local Government Aid and County Program Aid allocates dollars to cities and counties to help cover what those governmental units can't raise through property and other taxes. In the city of Bemidji's case, the funding is critical, as nearly half of the city consists of non-taxable property.
According to Walz, though, getting the programs to the 2002 levels isn't enough, as costs have continued to increase. Talks are needed in the coming years about adjusting the formula, specifically to LGA, he said.
"We will start it next session, and in the budgeting session of 2021, I think we need to have a really detailed conversation about tying Local Government Aid to inflationary costs, and see if there's a willingness to have the conversation on the funding formula to make sure we're modernizing it," Walz said. "I think there is a desire to do that."
Walz was asked about county officials who've requested more resources to fund programs and services required by the state.
"They're right on that. We ask much of them, and in some cases, there are unfunded mandates," Walz said. "I'm glad we were able to catch the counties back up, too. We have a great model, I think, in Minnesota where our counties are the implementers, especially when it comes to human services. But, I also know they're being taxed and burdened. Taxed not just money-wise, but in the time and effort that goes into it.
"There are better ways to help counties deliver services."