ST. PAUL, MN – Following record-setting snowfall in Minnesota last month, and another major snowfall event this past weekend, weather experts are predicting major flooding throughout the state this spring. Yet Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account - created to allocate funds to communities impacted by natural disasters and to avoid calling special sessions to authorize the appropriation of these funds - sits empty.
To rectify this problem, Rep. Barb Haley (R-Red Wing) is coauthoring legislation that will replenish this needed funding so impacted cities will be able to immediately begin recovery efforts.
“Given the massive amounts of snow we’ve received this winter, we are anticipating some serious and dangerous flooding when the snow eventually melts,” Haley said. “For our communities sitting on the Mississippi River, this is an especially relevant threat. The disaster assistance contingency account currently lacks the financial resources to effectively respond to these floods, so it is crucial we take care of the funding now so it doesn’t get caught up in end-of-session negotiations.”
The proposed legislation would transfer $20 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and another $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to Minnesota’s disaster assistance contingency account, effective the day after final enactment. The account is currently in the red after Minnesota responded with $11 million in relief to flooding events last year in Brainerd and Duluth. Governor Walz and House Democrats have proposed putting $10 million into the account for 2019, but that would likely be insufficient based on last year’s use and this year’s flood predictions.
“The state used $11 million last year for just two floods. In a year when we’ve already seen record snowfalls, $10 million will not be sufficient. It is imperative that we put additional funding into this account now to ensure we are prepared to adequately respond to communities’ needs when waters begin to rise,” concluded Haley.
The disaster assistance contingency account has contained more than $10 million in previous years. Since its creation in Fiscal Year 2014, the account held $17.466 million in Fiscal Year 2015 and $20.4 million in Fiscal Year 2016