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Minnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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HELPING PEOPLE DRAIN THEIR LOCAL SWAMP

Thursday, March 23, 2017

As President Trump attempts to “drain the swamp” in Washington D.C., I have unveiled a number of bills that try to eliminate similar waste in Minnesota. Last week I highlighted a number of my proposals that attack wasteful spending and welfare for politicians at the state level, and I also have a number of bills that will address similar concerns within local government.

 

For example, if your city chooses to declare itself a sanctuary city, I have a bill that protects that city’s freedom, but also eliminates all of its Local Government Aid (LGA). If your city shelters illegal immigrants, undermines federal law and had no problems flaunting that fact, then it should be held accountable for weakening our laws.

 

If your city implements its own labor regulations, such as instituting a new minimum wage and superseding what state government has already approved and is being implemented properly throughout the rest of the state, Minnesotans should not be forced to subsidize them. My bill would cut their LGA too.

 

Here’s another good one: if a local government uses taxpayer money to pay for lobbying efforts at the State Capitol, its LGA would be reduced by that same amount. It blows my mind that towns and cities spend thousands of dollars each year to pay some high-priced lobbyist to fight for an issue, let’s say more local dollars for street repairs. Rather than padding a Minneapolis lawyer’s wallet year after year and seeing nothing change, why not use those thousands of dollars to actually repair your streets?

 

Most people would agree that if your city is spending its state-allocated taxpayer dollars on lobbying rather than community needs, it probably has too much money to spend, and this bill recognizes that fact.

 

Is your city excited about potentially luring the World’s Fair to Minnesota and spending city resources to help make it happen? Under my legislation, your city would see a reduction in its LGA. The last time a World’s Fair was held in the United States in 1984 (New Orleans), $350 million was wasted and it became the first World’s Fair to go bankrupt. No other U.S. city has hosted it since, and once again I’d argue if your city would rather throw money at a proven boondoggle such as this instead of making necessary community improvements, it’s time for an LGA reduction.

 

Finally, I’m once again authoring the Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act, giving voters the opportunity to respond to a local government that they believe is being out of touch or fiscally irresponsible with their property tax dollars.

 

Under the plan, if in December it is found that certified property tax rates are higher than they were during the previous year, taxpayers have the right to put the issue of their property tax levy increase on the Election Day ballot that following November.

 

If the local government convinces the public the property tax increase is justified and the vote is in their favor, nothing changes – the local government’s levy increase decision is sustained. If the voters oppose the property tax increase decision, the local levy is reset to the amount that was utilized by the local government during the previous year.

 

The plan empowers taxpayers who are feeling powerless to non-responsive city councils and county boards, giving them the ability to drain their local swamp.