Below is a letter written by Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities President Audrey Nelsen that was published in today’s edition of the Star Tribune. You can also read it on the Star Tribune website here.

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent business shutdowns have had a devastating impact on rural communities. With only two weeks remaining in Minnesota’s legislative session, state lawmakers must take advantage of every available tool to rebuild our state and local economies. That is why it is frustrating to see the bonding bill getting tangled up in politics (“GOP says no bond deal amid stay-home,” front page, May 3, and “Minnesota Senate GOP leader says he won’t delay bonding bill over Walz emergency powers,”, May 4).

Passing a large public works bill is one of the most important actions the Legislature can take to create jobs and boost Minnesota’s economy. The need for a bonding bill that funds critical projects across the state was high before the virus hit — that need is even greater and more urgent now.

As many Main Street businesses remain shuttered and unemployment continues to rise, greater Minnesota is looking for strong leadership at the state level to help our communities weather this storm. Passing a bonding bill now will secure the funding needed to allow hundreds of capital projects — which employ thousands of workers — to get started as soon as it is safe to do so.

Lawmakers are in the unenviable position of having to thread the needle between keeping Minnesotans safe and finding ways to reopen and rebuild our economy. While the Legislature and governor have many difficult decisions ahead of them, the decision to pass a bonding bill should be clear. I urge legislators and Gov. Tim Walz to cast differences aside and come to a swift agreement on a bonding bill that will get projects rolling and Minnesotans back to work.

Audrey Nelsen, Willmar, Minn.

The writer is a City Council member and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.