What Minneapolis and St. Paul won at the Legislature

Minnesota’s two largest cities can count on millions of dollars in new state money as they plan their budgets for next year. The DFL strongholds clearly benefited from the party’s total control of state government this session. Here’s what they got:

Local government Aid:  Minneapolis and St. Paul get more than a quarter of the $80 million in new money the state is pumping into city budgets around the state next year. That means…

  • $11.9 million more for Minneapolis next year
  • $10.1 million more for St. Paul next year

Sales tax relief:  Cities and counties no longer have to pay state sales and use taxes. The change, which takes place Jan. 1, will save local governments collectively more than $120 million a year. That means…

  • $3-4 million for Minneapolis next year, according to Ways & Means Committee Chair Betsy Hodges.
  • $3.5 million for St. Paul next year, according to Joe Campbell, a spokesman for Mayor Chris Coleman.

Debt relief:  The state is helping the two cities make their mortgage payments on two metro landmarks. That means the state will pay…

  • $33 million for the Minneapolis Central Library over the life of the loan. The state will take on 40 percent of the mortgage payments for the building.
  • $28.75 million for the St. Paul Xcel Energy Center. The state is forgiving most of the remaining balance on the $48 million loan it gave the city to build the arena in 1999. St. Paul will be able to plow the Minnesota Wild’s rent into improving the facility.

Other provisions:

  • Minneapolis also got permission to use $50 million in local property tax money to fund a proposed streetcar line, although the city would still have to find another $150 million to make that project a reality.
  • St. Paul got to extend its local, half-cent sales tax for an extra 12 years — a $15 million-a-year revenue stream for the city. The tax is now scheduled to expire in 2042.

What the cities spend lobbying the Legislature:

  • Minneapolis spent $394,000 on state lobbying the Legislature last year.
  • St. Paul spent $123,000.