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Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Jim Spencer and intern Beena Raghavendran.

Population dip means Houston could get more state aid

Posted by: under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Democrats, Republicans, State budgets Updated: March 14, 2011 - 7:33 PM

Cities around Minnesota are bracing for state aid cuts spelled out in House Republicans’ tax proposal.

Not officials in Houston, a tiny town in southeastern Minnesota.

Buried in a budget spreadsheet of government aid cuts sits a line noting a $197,000 increase -- yes, increase -- for the town of about 1,000 residents in the Root River Valley.

Turns out, when former Gov. Tim Pawlenty unilaterally cut government aid a couple years back, he targeted all cities with more than 1,000 people.

At the time, Census data put Houston at 1,003 residents.

So Pawlenty whacked about $153,000 in aid to the city.

Houston city leaders pleaded with lawmakers using this argument: The town’s population had slipped to 989, which means they should have been exempt from Pawlenty’s cuts.

That proved a compelling argument for Republican legislators, who inserted a line in the budget to repay the lost funding.

“We’ve had a real battle here,” said Larry Jerviss, Houston city administrator.


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