By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 64-3, the Minnesota Senate on Thursday approved a $1.36 billion bipartisan infrastructure bonding bill that delivers significant funding for roads and bridges, water and sewer improvements, infrastructure upgrades at colleges and universities, and significant tax relief for small businesses and farmers.
The bill includes funding for a number of projects in southeastern Minnesota, including wastewater treatment plants in Caledonia and Lanesboro, Winona’s Mississippi Riverfront Trail, the Winona County jail, and phase three of the Chatfield Economic Development Authority’s Center for the Arts.
The bill also provides more than $200 million in tax relief for small businesses and farmers — including 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.
“This bipartisan bonding bill is a stimulus package that will provide an important economic and jobs boost to communities across the state at a time when it’s very much needed,” said Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). “It is a bill that focuses on core infrastructure, roads and bridges, water and sewer upgrades, community economic development, and other critical projects that will create jobs and stimulate our economy. I am incredibly proud of the hard work and bipartisan efforts that went into crafting this bill.
CALEDONIA WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
$7 million will be awarded to the city of Caledonia to help fund the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. The new plant will replace the outdated, deteriorating plant that has served the city since 1962. The new wastewater treatment plant is desperately needed, as the existing plant is expensive and difficult to operate; moreover, the existing plant has struggled to meet nitrogen limits imposed by the MPCA. The new plant will reduce energy consumption and wear-and-tear on equipment, improve water conservation and protect groundwater, and improve community welfare.
LANESBORO WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
The city of Lanesboro is expected to receive about $1.4 million in funding from the Water Infrastructure Funding Program to assist with the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. The existing plant was built in 1938, making it the oldest municipal sewage treatment facility in the state. Upgrades have helped extend the life of the facility, but a new facility is still desperately needed.
NEW WINONA COUNTY JAIL
Winona County will receive $750,000 to assist with land acquisition for the new county jail. The Minnesota Department of Corrections previously announced that the current jail would lose its authorization to hold inmates effective September 2021 due to numerous deficiencies with the 42-year-old facility.
MISSISSIPPI RIVERFRONT TRAIL
The bill provides $2 million to the city of Winona to construct a paved trail along the Mississippi River. This project will be part of an eventual riverfront trail spanning the length of the city, which is a cornerstone of Winona’s riverfront development and revitalization plans.
CHATFIELD CENTER FOR THE ARTS
The bill contains $8.7 million for the final phase of the Chatfield Center for the Arts project, which bolsters the economy and livability of the region for residents and visitors alike. The funding will help complete the rehabilitation of multiple buildings, including the 1916 former high school building, the 1936 auditorium building, and the structure that links the two buildings, as well as landscaping and other improvements and renovations.
The bill includes over $166 million for infrastructure improvements and asset preservation at colleges and universities within the Minnesota State system as well as the University of Minnesota system.
LOCAL ROADS AND BRIDGES, AND PORTS
The bill provides a total of $700 million for roads and bridges, including $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 additional road and bridge funding for small communities, especially in Greater Minnesota, $30 million for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation, and $70 million for local road improvements. The bill also includes $14 million for the Port Development Assistance Program.
The bonding bill totals $1.365 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.