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Shovel-ready and ready for jobs

Published (8/11/2011)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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No capital investment bill made it past the House floor during the 2011 regular session, but at the end of the special session, there was a $498 million law, which had been negotiated as part of the overall budget settlement for the 2012-2013 biennium.

Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker), who sponsors the law with Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), said the law contains projects that are “shovel-ready and will put a lot of people to work and protect our assets.” It is effective July 21, 2011.

While the DFL had preferred a larger bonding bill to help create more jobs in the state, the bill received the OK from Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), the DFL lead on the House Capital Investment Committee.

“The (law) is a product of good bipartisan work, shaping the (law) together, and the outcome is positive. It’s a very good (law),” she said.

Higher education receives a good share of the appropriations at $220 million, with the University of Minnesota to receive

$88.8 million, including $51.3 million toward a new physics and nanotechnology building on the Minneapolis campus. The law also provides the university with $12.5 million to help mitigate placement of the Central Corridor light rail line on the campus.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will receive more than $131.5 million for repairs, maintenance, building renovations and new buildings. Of the amount, St. Cloud State University will receive $42.33 million for a new science and engineering laboratory facility and Normandale Community College in Bloomington will receive $21.98 million for a new academic partnership center and student services building.

Under the new law, money not spent by the institutions for projects should be used to address asset preservation. It also requires a biennial report to the Legislature on that activity.

Of the $55.9 million focused on transportation projects, $33 million will go for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation; $10 million for grants under the local roads of state or regional significance program and rural road safety program; $3 million is for railroad warning device replacement; and $2.5 million is for grants to pay up to 80 percent of nonfederal share for Greater Minnesota transit projects.

The state has seen persistent flooding in recent years, and the law provides $50 million for flood mitigation projects. Moorhead could see up to $16.5 million, Roseau up to $6 million, Georgetown up to $3 million, and New Ulm $1 million. Clay County can use up to $1 million for its local share for property acquisitions. New levees, whenever possible, will need to meet the state standard of 3 feet above the 100-year flood elevation.

In the area of environment and natural resources, supporters say $16 million for renovations to the Coon Rapids Dam are needed to stop the influx of Asian carp to the state’s waterways. Design-build can be used on the project. The newly created Lake Vermilion State Park receives a kick-start toward development with an $8 million allocation.

Several locations in the state have been considered over the past few years for a new veterans cemetery. The law directs the commissioner of veterans affairs to give priority consideration to land owned and proposed for donation by Fillmore County. Previous law designated Redwood County for prioritization.

Other funding in the law includes:

• $20 million for the wastewater infrastructure funding program;

• $19 million for asset preservation at Corrections Department facilities;

• $7 million to renovate a building at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program treatment facility in St. Peter;

• $4.7 million to Hennepin County for a regional 911 emergency communications center;

• $4 million for asset preservation at the Minnesota Zoo;

• $1 million for a Minnesota African American History and Cultural Center; and

• $300,000 for grave markers or memorials on public land with unmarked graves of deceased residents of state hospitals or regional treatment centers.

2011 Special Session: HF23*/ SF9/CH12

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