Letter: House bill's funding for Greater Minnesota is inadequate
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the newspaper by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press. To submit a letter, send it to email@example.com or Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.
To the editor:
Editor's note: Below is a statement from Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities President and Little Falls Mayor Greg Zylka on Minnesota House capital investment bill, HF 337 :
This year in particular, we have been advocating for a capital investment bill that will serve as the foundation for economic recovery in all corners of our state as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. Unfortunately, this is not that bill.
In a bill that totals more than $1 billion, we are dismayed that it directs only a small fraction of the funding toward needs in Greater Minnesota. While the bill includes money for several statewide programs that could see some dollars make their way to our communities, they are not programs that target Greater Minnesota’s unique infrastructure needs nor ones that will do much to support future economic growth.
Our greatest disappointment with the House bonding bill is the under-investment in clean water infrastructure; $15 million for the Public Facilities Authority is simply inadequate to address the critical water needs of our entire state. State agencies project more than $11 billion is needed statewide over the next 15 to 20 years to address water pollution and replace aging infrastructure, yet this bill fails to make clean water a priority.
The one bright spot in the bill is the inclusion of $5 million for child care facilities in Greater Minnesota, which is vital to combat the child care shortage in rural communities. However, the bill fails to invest in other critical needs for Greater Minnesota such as workforce housing, economic development programs, and parks and trails. In contrast, there is significant funding for the metro in all these areas. While we do not begrudge funding for the metro area, we urge the Legislature to craft a better bonding bill that makes targeted investments in Greater Minnesota as well.
Mayor Little Falls, MN