To the Editor:
This year, our state will issue bonds to help build and maintain the infrastructure that keeps our state competitive and makes investments for the future. Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives took a major step toward making those investments by passing a $949 million bonding bill. The House's action brings a final bonding bill even closer to being passed and signed. Members of the House and Senate will now meet in a conference committee to bridge the $40 million dollar difference between the House version and the $990 million Senate version while taking the Governor's $812 million recommendation into account. It's my hope that the conference committee moves quickly to give us a bonding bill for final passage. Construction season is upon us, and the longer we wait, the harder these projects will be to complete.
Included in both House and Senate versions are projects that benefit both the Northwest suburbs and Minnesota as a whole. For transportation, full funding for the Northstar commuter rail line's final state bonding request is included in the Senate bill, with the House version only lacking $10 million. This important project will serve to ease gridlock in the Twin Cities. Higher education is likely to benefit both locally and statewide. Both bonding bills include the full $700,000 request from North Hennepin Community College to help pay for the initial design of a Business & Technology Center. For the University of Minnesota, both bills contain over $120 million investments for construction projects throughout the U of M system. As Minnesotans living in the Red River Valley learned this year, infrastructure investments can prevent a major flood from causing serious damage. This year's House bonding bill contains $19 million for DNR flood mitigation with a share of that money likely to go toward flood prevention along parts of Basset Creek.
We have the opportunity to make an investment this year to make an investment keep to keep our state strong and competitive for years to come.