Goggin column: State taking care of critical infrastructure
Mike Goggin, R-Red Wing, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-4264.
In my June column, I discussed Gov. Mark Dayton's end-of-session vetoes and how disappointing it was that he was unwilling to work with the legislature on tax cuts and the supplemental spending bill that funded critical issues facing the state, like elder abuse prevention, opioid addiction and school safety.
One success I am quite proud of is this year's bipartisan bonding bill.
My colleagues and I worked hard to make sure the bill focused on our most critical statewide needs—things such as road and bridge improvements, sewer and water infrastructure, veterans, mental health and economic development.
We added $342 million for statewide road and bridge projects. This includes $60 million for Local Road Improvement Grants and $15 million for the Local Bridge Replacement program. This Legislature invested more money into roads and bridges than any in the last two decades, and we did it without raising gas taxes or tab fees — a monumental achievement.
We passed $120 million for urgent sewer and water treatment infrastructure upgrades around the state, so local communities can continue to deliver one of government's core functions: clean water.
We took steps to address the mental health crisis, with $80 million for mental health support. This includes $30 million to establish regional mental health crisis centers throughout the state of Minnesota, so people facing mental health emergencies can get the treatment they need.
We also added $35 million to the Rural Finance Authority. The RFA provides low-interest loans to farmers to help with startup costs for new farmers, disaster recovery, and debt restructuring.
And we added $25 million in school safety grants, because protecting our children is our top priority. This funding will allow each district to address their own unique needs.
Southeastern Minnesota stands to benefit from the bonding bill as well. Three projects that I carried were included in the final bill. I worked hard on these issues, and I am glad we got the job done.
• $8 million for the Wabasha Rivertown Resurgence. This project would fund riverfront improvements along the Mississippi River in Wabasha to expand access, improve dockage and landing facilities, complete ecological improvements, and expand the National Eagle Center.
• $330,000 to add a series of railroad crossing quiet zones that consists of construction and installation of concrete median barriers and associated road improvements at five Canadian Pacific railroad crossings in the cities of Goodview and Minnesota City.
• $616,000 for the Goodhue County Historical Society museum to replace its HVAC system, roofing, and windows, and rehabilitate its entryway storefront.
The infrastructure bill is great for Minnesotans — roads will be safer, commutes less stressful, water cleaner, and more.
When the Legislature reconvenes in January we will have a new governor and several new legislators, but our goal will remain the same: continuing to deliver positive results that help working families thrive and businesses grow.
As always, it is a privilege serving as your state senator. Please feel free to contact me any time with your questions or concerns.