Legislators are looking at accessing billions of federal dollars for capital improvements to roads, bridges, broadband access and community facilities using monies from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.
Minnesota Management and Budget officials presented a picture of federal monies allocated and available to the House Capital Investment Committee Monday.
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The federal government has promised about $1 trillion to the states through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Minnesota is expected to receive more than $7.4 billion in formula funds over the next five years, but a majority require a state match.
State agencies have been coordinating with each other and local agencies to maximize the impact of the federal dollars, said Liz Connor, MMB’s strategic initiatives manager. She highlighted the state’s IIJA website, with information for local governments and others on technical assistance and resources, as well as a grant opportunity tracking form.
Minnesota has been awarded nearly $5.9 billion to date, but that doesn’t mean there is authority to spend it, Connor said, though MMB has a handle on what the state will be pursuing. Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget — scheduled for release Jan. 24 — is expected to include proposals for matching funds.
Questions the committee must answer, said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), include how much money is available, how much the match is, and how much the state needs to unlock federal funds.
American Rescue Plan
Minnesota was also awarded $180.7 million through the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. To access the fund, capital projects must:
To date, $130.7 million to expand access to broadband in Minnesota has been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. This includes $15 million for a new program to help homes and businesses defray the construction costs of bringing broadband services from the road to the door.
The state is awaiting a federal response — possibly by fall 2023 — on another proposed $50 million for multi-purpose community facility projects that’d be administered by the Department of Education. Examples of eligible projects include improving internet access at libraries or creating employment centers at community health care sites.
Adosh Unni, the department’s director of government relations, said the expected 2- to 2 ½-year turnaround to spend funds once they’re allocated is manageable.