GOP lawmakers outlined an anti-crime package Wednesday that would force officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul to spend all their state funding on public safety. No other cities are singled out for the requirement.
Currently, city leaders decide how to spend the money from Local Government Aid payments. Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound, says local government's first obligation is to protect its citizens.
"I don't care about golf instructors they have in their parks department, or ski instructors or music program coordinators or Zamboni drivers. I do not care. But what I do care about is the money that this state is funneled through the Legislature to Minneapolis -- that it be spent on cops before it be spent on anything else," said Smith.
Mayors R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman of St. Paul said they have been hampered by state aid cuts over the years and have done all they could to improve public safety.
"While we are happy to see the House Republicans change their position, after years of promoting state budget cuts that hurt public safety and forced property tax payers to pick up the tab, they should know that the City of Minneapolis is already doing its part by providing every available resource to keep our city safe," Rybak said.
The House Republican plan would also deny welfare benefits to any new Minnesota resident who has a felony record.
The Republicans don't have enough members in the House or Senate to pass their plans without significant help from Democrats.