SAINT PAUL – Tonight, the Minnesota House passed a Jobs & Local Projects and Critical Economic Development bill with investments in infrastructure and economic stimulus to help communities bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation invests $1.879 billion toward public assets such as higher education institutions, clean water infrastructure, roads and bridges, parks, trails, and more. It also contains supplemental state budget appropriations and a series of tax policy changes.
“Our public infrastructure is aging, and the projects in this bill are vitally important to Duluth and communities across the state,” said Rep. Jen Schultz (DFL – Duluth). “Funding these important construction projects will improve our economic recovery and strengthen our region overall. I’m also proud we were able to deliver strong investments in PCA pay, direct care and treatment funding, and other priorities we value, especially during the difficult times posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“During this economic crisis, Minnesotans deserve action so families can succeed and thrive. While investments in bonding projects certainly strengthen physical infrastructure, they are at their core investments in communities,” said Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth), the House Majority Whip. “All year, we’ve been working hard to deliver funding for improvements in our colleges and universities, clean water, safe roads, and other priorities to keep our communities, and our whole state, an excellent place to live.”
Projects located in Duluth include A.B. Anderson Hall at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth Seawall improvements, Lake Superior Zoo, the Duluth Depot, the St. Louis County Regional Behavioral Health Crisis Facility, the Grassy Point rail swing bridge, Duluth Dump #1 superfund site, and WDSE public television. A full list of the projects included can be accessed here.
The legislation also includes a series of supplemental budget items, including $16 million for direct care and treatment programs at the Department of Human Services, including services for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and chemical dependency. The bill also includes funding for a temporary pay increase for personal care attendants, $10.3 million to allow the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to test sexual assault examination kits, and funding for the State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources to cover overtime costs from the civil unrest this summer.
Within the tax section of the bill, the legislation allows the Duluth Public Schools to issue local bonds in order to finance a facilities plan to sell the Historic Old Central High School. It also includes full section 179 conformity to the federal tax code aimed at helping businesses and farmers. It also contains a policy fix for short-term rental properties, flexibility for the Minnesota State High School League’s sales tax proceeds, and an expansion of the homestead property tax exclusion for the spouses of deceased disabled veterans.