For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew
A large public works package is needed to help Greater Minnesota communities — and the entire state — rebound from COVID-19 pandemic
ST. PAUL—As state legislators prepare to tackle a laundry list of items during a special session that began today, Greater Minnesota city leaders contend that the Legislature must not adjourn until they pass a bonding bill.
“Minnesota is in the midst of perhaps the most trying time our state has ever faced,” said Audrey Nelsen, a member of the Willmar City Council and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC). “We recognize that there are many critical issues that deserve attention in a special session including additional COVID-19 pandemic response, criminal justice reforms and efforts to rebuild damaged neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These issues are all important and demand response, but I want to reiterate that the Legislature cannot adjourn the special session without passing a bonding bill.”
Since before the start of the regular legislative session in February, the CGMC has been a vocal advocate for a large public works package that invests at least $1.5 billion in critical infrastructure projects and state programs that will jump-start economic recovery and growth.
“Well before anyone had even heard of COVID-19, we were calling on the Legislature to pass at least a $1.5 billion bonding bill to address long-standing needs in all corners of the state,” Nelsen said. “As strong as the case for a large bonding bill was five months ago, it is even stronger now.”
Nelsen said a large bonding bill is necessary to help Greater Minnesota communities, and the entire state, rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent unrest in the Twin Cities.
“We know the road ahead will be long and difficult, but the bonding bill remains one of the few tools available to create jobs now and set Minnesota’s economy back on the right track,” she said.
In addition to supporting numerous projects in individual communities, the CGMC is urging the Legislature to include funding for several critical programs in the bonding bill. The coalition’s top priorities include:
- $200 million for Public Facilities Authority (PFA) water infrastructure grant and loan programs. Numerous drinking water and wastewater facilities in the state are in dire need of repairs and upgrades. This funding will help advance dozens of projects that otherwise would have to be funded through massive rate increases on local residents and businesses, many of whom are already struggling due to the economic downturn.
- $20 million for child care facility grants. Greater Minnesota has been facing a child care shortage for several years, and the pandemic only exacerbated this crisis. This funding would create a new program to provide grants to local governments to help construct, expand or upgrade child care facilities to increase child care capacity in rural communities.
- $20 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant program. As of 2019, all of the funding for this successful grant program, which provides grants for public infrastructure needed to accommodate new and expanding businesses, had been allocated to projects, leaving a waiting list that is several cities long. Without additional funding this year, many meritorious projects will be left waiting.
- $200 million for local roads and bridges. The local road and bridge improvement programs have a strong history of making balanced investments across the state. The CGMC urges the Legislature to continue to invest in these programs and to ensure that funding is distributed equitably across the state.
“Our communities cannot wait,” Nelsen said, noting that infrastructure needs continue to pile up and projects will become more expensive as costs increase. “The Legislature must pass a bonding bill during this special session.”
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing more than 100 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC online at greatermncities.org and follow us on Twitter @greatermncities.