The Minneapolis-St. Paul region faces a lack of support from the top leadership of the Minnesota state government.
“Our governor doesn’t like St. Paul,” Kathy Lantry, president of the St. Paul City Council, told the LINK delegation from Atlanta. She said the governor vetoed every bill that would have helped St. Paul. “The governor is Republican, and we are all Democratic.”
Lantry spoke to the group in place of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who was unable to speak to the group today.
“There’s tension between the governor’s office and the general electorate,” Lantry said. “He has this mantra of no new taxes.”
Meanwhile, the state of Minnesota has a $6.8 billion deficit, but it is accepting funding from the federal stimulous package, she said.
Although the relationship between Minneapolis-St. Paul region (also called the Twin Cities) and the state is strained (similar to the split between the Atlanta region and the state of Georgia), there is now a much closer relationship between the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Lantry gave much of the credit to Mayor Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak for working together.
But Lantry identifies herself just with St. Paul, saying she rarely visits Minneapolis. And she said St. Paul has an wealth of cultural institutions with wonderful parks.
“We have a large amount of parks,” she said. “I feel my quality of life is improved because of my proximity to parks. People desire open space. In the city of St. Paul, we treasure our parks.”
One of St. Paul’s best known parks is Como Park with a zoo and a conservatory.
“Almost all of it free,” Lantry said.
After lunch, the LINK delegation heard from Tom Gillaspy, state demographer for the Minnesota Department of Admiistration.
“Atlanta is growing quite bit faster (than Minneapolis-St. Paul) right now,” Gillaspy said. “But we are still experiencing quite a bit of growth for a frost-bite metro area.”
Since the 2000 Census, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has grown by 8.8 percent while metro Atlanta has grown by 18.2 percent. Metro Atlanta’s population also is larger with 5.4 million people compared to 3.2 million in the Twin Cities.
Another big difference is diversity. Minneapolis-St. Paul has a minority population of 18.1 percent with 6.3 percent black and 4.4 percent Hispanic. Metro Atlanta’s minority population is 45.1 percent with 30.5 percent being black and 8.9 percent Hispanic.
“We are becoming more diverse,” Gillaspy said, adding that its greatest diversity is in the large urban areas. “But the two largest counties are both less diverse than the national average.”