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State Representative Mary Murphy

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Posted: 2009-05-13 00:00:00
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Press/News Releases

DULUTH FARES WELL IN 2009 BONDING BILL


ST. PAUL, MN - The Minnesota Legislature approved a capital investment conference report (HF855) today that would let $299 million in state bonds to repair and rebuild critical infrastructure around the state. It is designed to create thousands of Minnesota jobs as quickly as possible, shore up local bridges and other infrastructure, and compliment the recently enacted federal recovery package. The bill is expected to leverage hundreds of millions in additional federal dollars to help speed Minnesota’s economic recovery.

“State Economist Tom Stinson told us clearly at the beginning of this session that a targeted, strategic bonding bill is one of Minnesota’s most effective tools in putting our state on course for a stronger economic future," said State Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL - Duluth). “That’s exactly what this bill does.”

After debate in conference committee over the last several weeks, several important Duluth projects were included in the bill:

• $4.9 million to upgrade the Duluth Airport terminal
• $11 million for a new health sciences classroom at Lake Superior College
• $1.5 million for the Northern Lights Express passenger rail
• $3 million for Port Development Authority
• $2 million for asset preservation at the University of Minnesota Duluth and Lake Superior College

“We fought hard to ensure these important investments are made in our community,” said State Rep. Roger Reinert (DFL - Duluth). “These projects mean more than better classrooms for our students and stronger economic infrastructure; they mean hundreds of new jobs right here, right now, in Duluth. That has to be our top priority.”

In addition to these specific investments in Duluth infrastructure, HF855 directs needed investments to asset preservation at colleges and universities ($51.5 million), local bridges ($10 million), and passenger and freight rail projects ($26 million) statewide. The bill also provides relief to flood-affected communities in the Red River Valley ($53.8 million), tornado-affected communities in the Hugo area ($350,000), and resources to help the St. Charles School District rebuild after a devastating fire ($242,000).

“When one Minnesota community is hurting, or devastated by an unexpected disaster, we as Minnesotans have a responsibility to come together and help them rebuild,” said State Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL - Hermantown). “This bill offers a needed response to three communities in particular that need our help right now. But more than that, it responds to the economic crisis affecting every Minnesota community with tangible investments that will create jobs.”

Minnesota’s economy is facing the longest and deepest economic recession since World War II. More than 248,000 Minnesotans are out of work as unemployment topped 8.2% statewide and 8.8% last month in Duluth. In fact, the state is shedding jobs at a rate not seen since the Great Depression as more than 1,000 Minnesotans are losing their jobs every week.

The House and Senate have approved HF855. The bill now awaits Governor Pawlenty’s signature.

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