Local governments slightly increased their spending on lobbyists last year.
A report State Auditor Rebecca Otto issued Monday showed local governments paid $8.2 million to lobby state officials, up 0.7 percent from a year earlier.
“The operation and funding of local governments can be greatly affected by decisions made by the state legislature,” a statement from Otto’s office said. “Therefore, it is understandable that those affected by these decisions would want to have representation during the legislative process.”
Generally, lobbying costs are higher during a session in which the Legislature sets a two-year state budget. That was done last year, with a government shutdown that concerned local governments, but lobbying expenses went up little from the previous year.
Otto’s office reported that 82 local governments either hired contract lobbyists or had s someone on their own staffs do their lobbying. That was five more than 2010.
Slightly more than half of the lobbying costs come through associations that represent governments’ interests in St. Paul.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, representing about 75 communities, spent the most local government money on lobbyists: $822,239. No. 2 was the League of Minnesota Cities with $608,965.
The Minnesota School Board Association spent $606,961 and the Association of Minnesota Counties spent $262,696.
The lobbying firm that pulled in the most local government money was Flaherty and Hood, which was paid $772,076. It represents the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
The full report is at http://tinyurl.com/govtlobby,