Season’s Greetings! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the holidays with loved ones safely. As we reflect on 2021, this time of the year is an opportunity to show a little extra empathy, kindness, and generosity to our those working on the frontline of the pandemic; those in healthcare, emergency first response, education, retail, and the service industry all deserve our thanks for continuing to adapt to the challenges COVID-19 has presented. The most meaningful gift we can give to show our gratitude is to get vaccinated, boosted, and tested against the virus.
Grateful to these physicians and healthcare workers for their service to all of us during the pandemic. They called a press conference recently to implore people to get vaccinated and to use layered prevention strategies to save lives and to enable them to care for the sick and injured. Their stories about the current state of our hospitals are heartbreaking. We must do our part so that they can take care of us when we need them.
New Budget Forecast for Minnesota
Minnesota’s new economic forecast shows a $7.7 billion positive balance for the current biennium. Officials from Minnesota Management and Budget and Minnesota’s State Demographer Susan Brower shared data on the projected surplus, showing extraordinary growth in income, consumer spending, and corporate profits.
While this is encouraging news and demonstrates how our state’s economy has adapted to the pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind that this is still an estimate, and inflation is not built into these twice-a-year projections. The Omicron variant now accounts for 73% of COVID-19 infections across the country and much uncertainty remains. I’ll be advocating for judicious, targeted investments in our Minnesota communities so we can meet pandemic response needs now, and build a strong foundation for a healthy, thriving state.
Infrastructure Update & Upcoming Town Hall
President Biden visited Rosemount, Minnesota late last month to learn more about Dakota County Community and Technical College’s Heavy Duty Truck Technology area and about the transportation programs’ contribution to infrastructure development and enhancement. Since the President’s visit, the House Transportation and Capital Investment Committees held a joint hearing to discuss how the federal Infrastructure Improvement Jobs Act law will impact our transportation system over the next five years.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation testified, for example, that by 2026, 772 bridges will need to be replaced completely, with an estimated cost of $458 million. This doesn’t include the 88 historic local bridges in need of preservation in the next five years, which has a price tag of approximately $54 million. Minnesota is slated to get approximately $302 million for bridge replacement. I’ll continue working with my colleagues on long-term solutions to maintain the high-quality infrastructure we all need and deserve, so we don’t have to put off critical projects like the replacement of the 100-year-old Northome Avenue Bridge, of which I was grateful to have secured the state funds in 2019.
It was an honor to partner with the City of Deephaven and fierce advocate and late Mayor Paul Skrede on securing state funds to replace the Northome Avenue Bridge. Photo: StarTribune, Deephaven City Councilmemer Steve Erickson and I at the Northome Avenue Bridge, dedicated to former Mayor Paul Skrede.
We’ll do a deeper dive into the local infrastructure improvements underway in our Lake Minnetonka communities at our upcoming town hall meeting on January 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Shorewood. I would also appreciate hearing directly from you about the types of local updates and fixes you’d like to see get funded at the state level.
Deephaven’s New Mayor
Congratulations to newly appointed Deephaven Mayor Melissa McNeill, Deephaven’s first woman mayor! I look forward to working with you this session and beyond.
South Lake Minnetonka’s New Police Chief
Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Chief Brian Tholen to the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department! Chief Tholen is a Shorewood resident and brings 25 years of experience at the Edina Police Department to his new role. Safe communities are vitally important to our families and residents. I’m eager to partner with you on public safety issues at the local and state level, Chief!
Honoring our Hometown Heroes
I had the great privilege of recently presenting Cheryl and Bob Ayotte with a House Resolution honoring their many years of service to the military and veteran community. Carver County Veterans Services Officer Dan Tengwall, Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Brad Lindsay, Military Affairs Liaison from Rep. Dean Phillips’ office Rollie Olson, family, fellow veterans, neighbors, and friends gathered to honor the Ayottes. It was a great event for an incredible family.
Keep in Touch
I wish you a happy, healthy, and safe weekend. Please contact me anytime with questions, input, or to let me know how I can provide assistance.