Local Projects Rely on Yet-to-Be-Passed State Bonding Bill

Projects Like Duluth Steam Plant and St. Louis River Clean-Up Need State Funding

DULUTH, Minn. – The deadline is Monday for this year’s Minnesota legislative session to adjourn, and with no budget agreement in place yet, elected officials from all over Minnesota have been in St. Paul calling attention to the needs of cities across the state.

Projects like the Duluth International Airport runway reconstruction and the St. Louis River clean up need state funding in order to trigger matching federal grants.

The St. Louis River Alliance is asking the state for a $25.4 million so they can remove contaminated sediments from the river.

If that passes as part of the bonding bill, the federal government will match at least 65 percent of the money. Those two sources combined would give the Alliance enough funding to clean up the river.

Since last year’s bonding bill didn’t pass, and with this year’s deadline looming, time for the project may be running out.

“We don’t have forever on this. After 2017, that could go away and we could lose 47.2 million dollars so they have to pass this bonding bill in order to trigger that money,” says St. Louis River Alliance Executive Director Kris Eilers. “That’s why it has to happen now.”

Duluth leaders, like Mayor Emily Larson, were in St. Paul yesterday urging lawmakers to support local government aid, which the state has reduced funding for in recent years.

They also asked for support of various local infrastructure projects also included in the bonding bill.

“We have projects like the steam plant where the timing is now and we need to tear up Superior Street,” says Mayor Larson. “We all know that we have hundreds of business owners and property owners aligned on the timing, ready to go and it does not make sense to tear up the street now, fix the street and then come back later to fix the infrastructure.”

If Minnesota lawmakers can’t reach an agreement on the state budget by the end of the legislative session, there could be a special legislative session or a government shutdown.

Categories: Environment, News, News – Latest News, Political