Duluth, St. Louis Co. Leaders Celebrate Legislative Wins

DULUTH, Minn. — “This is by far the most important and substantial legislative session that has ever happened for the city of Duluth and our residents,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.

The 2023 Minnesota legislative session has come to a close and Tuesday leaders in Duluth and St. Louis County took to the podium at the DECC celebrating what they call multiple wins for the area.

From Mayor Emily Larson to county commissions, to the face of trains in Duluth. There were no sad faces at Tuesday’s news conference.

St. Louis County is getting nearly $9.4 million in additional state revenue. It’s an amount County Commissioner Patrick Boyle says is the largest increase in decades. He says it’s coming at a much-needed time with inflation putting a major burden on the county’s budget.

“What I’m talking about is $4.1 million dollars in county program aid, another $1.7 million dollars in increase in payment of lieu of taxes, PILF Funding. This is going to directly affect our levy this year and I’ve a break to our property owners who really, really need it,” said Boyle.

In Duluth, $4.7 million in additional Local Government aid has been approved. Spirit Mountain is getting $13 million in bonding dollars. And the city’s half-and-half sales tax has been extended, which will generate $36 million for neighborhood parks.

Meanwhile, it was big win for the Northern Lights Express project, with the state’s portion of the project fully funded at $194 million. NLX champion Ken Buehler says the last time a train left Duluth for the Twin Cities was on Easter Sunday, 1985.

“This was a 24-year effort. One thing I’ve learned from it is you’ve got to stick with it and suddenly things happen. This is a train that will change everything,” said Buehler.

Other projects funded include $17.5 million for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District infrastructure repairs and replacements. $3.74 million of direct aid is headed to public safety and $15 million for public housing rehabilitation.

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