The Minnesota Senate on Thursday approved a $1.36 billion infrastructure bonding bill that would deliver funding to critical statewide infrastructure, roads and bridges, and sewer and water systems. Several projects and programs championed by Senator John Jasinski (R-Faribault) were included in the bill, including funding for the Steele County Fairgrounds, the Faribault Correctional Facility, economic development around local businesses, and more.
The bill also provides full, retroactive conformity to Section 179 of the federal tax code, a major reform that will allow farmers and other small business owners to deduct large equipment purchases. Section 179 conformity has been a top Senate Republican priority for several years.
“This infrastructure bill is a great deal for Minnesota,” said Sen. Jasinski, who serves on the Capital Investment Committee. “It focuses our limited resources on the places that need it most — key infrastructure, roads and bridges, clean and safe water, and important local projects, including a number of projects here in southern Minnesota. It took a lot of work, but we should all be satisfied with the outcome.”
STEELE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS ELECTRICAL IMPROVEMENTS
$750,000 will be provided to Steele County to relocate all electrical power and overhead lines underground at the Steele County Fairgrounds in order to meet safety standards under the National Electrical Code. Under current statute, the fairgrounds would have to create a 15-foot buffer around all electrical boxes and lines — a severe burden to vendors, visitors, and other organizations that use the fairgrounds during the year. Moving the lines underground will be both safer and more efficient.
BDPI – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE
$8.2 million will be allocated for this economic development program, which Senator Jasinski has championed repeatedly in recent years. The program provides grants to eligible cities for complex and costly public infrastructure development projects for industrial parks and to facilitate business expansions. Funding for the BDPI program is critical in assisting Greater Minnesota communities with business retention and expansion needs. Investing in this program will create jobs, increase the local tax base, and expand economic development opportunities that are critical in revitalizing the state’s economy. Eligible business projects include manufacturing, technology, warehousing and distribution, research and development, and agricultural processing.
FARIBAULT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY – DAKOTA BUILDING RENOVATION
$954,000 will be allocated to the Faribault Correctional Facility for renovations to its Dakota Building. The Dakota Building is the minimum security unit for the facility, and badly needs upgrades. The project calls for the demolition of a two-story brick structure that is in “crisis” condition where restoration would not be cost-effective given how several degraded it is. In early 2019, approximately 20′ X 30′ section of brick fell off the building due to water infiltration and freeze/thaw cycles. This condition exists at other of the brick exterior which poses a safety hazard. Additionally, the project calls for the construction of a 4,400 square foot single-story addition to accommodate additional program space and support functions, as well as renovations of the existing Dakota Building, including windows, roof, and portions of the brick exterior and some internal improvements.
MINNESOTA ACADEMIES FOR THE DEAF AND BLIND
The Minnesota State Academies will get $5.83 million for the construction of a Safety and Security Building Corridor for the Deaf campus, among other renovations and improvements.
Currently, students and staff must access one of the three education facilities by an open air sidewalk, which leaves them vulnerable to the weather conditions and virtually unprotected from anyone planning to inflict harm on them. The security corridor would provide an enclosed walkway to access each facility from the other shielding the students and staff from the elements and provide a much more secure and controlled access between the three educational facilities and provide for an improved means to put the facilities into a Lock-Down condition.
In addition, the Academies will receive $3.15 million for asset preservation.
LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES
In addition, the bill calls for $5 million for township road improvement grants, as well as $3 million for safe routes to school infrastructure improvements, $84 million for state road construction, and Senator Jasinski’s bills to provide additional road and bridge funding for small communities, especially in Greater Minnesota – namely, $30 million for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation and $70 million for local road improvements.
The Senate’s bonding bill totals $1.13 billion in general obligation bonds, plus $300.3 million for trunk highway bonds, and focuses on key infrastructure needs that will get Minnesotans working, preserve the state’s assets, and stimulate the economy.