Right now, communities all across Minnesota are reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. From health care to education to retail and manufacturing, local economies are struggling to provide critical services while keeping people safe. Every tool available needs to be brought to bear to get us all through this tough time.
The main focus of the legislature this year was supposed to be passage of a capital bonding bill. As of now, no agreement has been reached on a plan that would allow for improvements that will not only create jobs right away, but will leave lasting infrastructure that will benefit our community long into the future.
“Our area needs funding for our local bridges, roads and other basic infrastructure,” said Commissioner Vance Stuehrenberg, Board Chair. “Blue Earth County has 25 deficient bridges that need replacement in the next two years as well two additional bridges that needs repair now. The dollars needed for local road and bridge projects around the state were included in the House and Senate bonding proposals, but we need passage of a final bill for those projects to happen,” Stuehrenberg said.
“We know how critical transportation is for our regional economy which relies on connections to other parts of the state and beyond,” explained Commissioner Colleen Landkamer. “Whether it’s rail, transit, roads or bridges, our future growth and development depends on safe transportation infrastructure,” Landkamer noted.
The dramatic decrease in traffic in recent months in response to COVID-19 translates into a decrease in state transportation funds. Revenue from the gas tax and motor vehicle sales tax are expected to take a hit while local revenue dedicated to transportation could also see a decline. State bond funds can help make up for that loss in revenue so local governments are in a position to maintain local transportation systems for residents.
“We need our state legislators to make passage of a capital bonding bill a top priority and get it done in July so work can begin before the end of the year on some of these important infrastructure projects,” Stuehrenberg said. “Delay will cost jobs that are desperately needed and will only increase the cost of projects for taxpayers.”