A report by the Minnesota State Auditor says local governments spent $8.5 million lobbying at the state Capitol in 2008.
The annual report found that local government lobbying expenses increased more than 9 percent over 2007. The report found that 64 local governments directly employed staff or hired contract lobbyists in 2008.
Minneapolis spent the most, just over $400,000 for the year. Hennepin County, St. Paul, Anoka County and the Metropolitan Airports Commission rounded out the top five.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities spent the most of any association representing local governments. The group, which represents rural cities, spent just over $1 million for the year.
Between 2001 and 2008, local governments have spent $43 million lobbying the Legislature. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has criticized local government officials for complaining about cuts in state aid while spending millions on lobbying.
Local government officials say they need to have a presence at the Captiol to defend their interests.