Interest groups spent less slightly money lobbying state government in 2015 than in the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. 

As in past years, major business groups and labor unions shelled out the most money to try to influence the decisions of lawmakers, the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton and city governments.

Groups spent $69.1 million lobbying in 2015, down from $70.3 million in 2014 and a recent high of $74.8 million in 2013.

The decline was notable given that 2015 was a budget year entailing a lengthy legislative session, when lawmakers decided on the state's two-year, $42 billion budget. The state budget can affect hundreds of private interests, including contractors and vendors, labor unions, hospitals and others with a big stake in the state's fiscal plans.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership -- the latter representing the state's biggest blue chip companies -- together spent $3.5 million lobbying government. 

Education Minnesota, the state's powerful teachers union, spent nearly $1 million. 

Big energy companies like Enbridge Energy Partners and Xcel Energy Services also spent big sums, much of it to influence the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Local government spent heavily to influence the Legislature and the Dayton Administration. The League of Cities and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities together spent more than $1.3 million lobbying. 

In all cases, most of the money is spent on salaries. 

The report can be found here

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