Dayton’s ‘jobs bill’ would strengthen state’s infrastructure and economy, unions say

(Reprinted from the Union AdvocateGov. Mark Dayton today proposed investing $1.4 billion in infrastructure improvements across Minnesota, including $82 million earmarked for projects in St. Paul. The governor called the bonding proposal a “jobs bill” and, drawing on academic research, estimated it would create work for nearly 40,000 Minnesotans. [The calculation does not include an additional $600 million Dayton’s proposal would leverage in private, federal and local funds.]

The measure quickly drew support from two of the state’s top labor leaders.

Harry Melander, president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, said he was “encouraged” by the $1.4 billion proposal.

“Gov. Dayton continues to build on his legacy of maintaining Minnesota’s infrastructure for generations to come,” Melander said. “It’s a legacy of not only maintaining our infrastructure, but also providing good, well-paying jobs for working people throughout our state.”

“Upgrading infrastructure is one of the smartest things state government can do for our economy,” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy said. “The governor’s plan will put tens of thousands of Minnesotans to work in family sustaining jobs. When more people work, more people spend money, leading to a stronger economy.

“We urge lawmakers to take advantage of Minnesota’s strong fiscal standing to improve infrastructure and put even more people to work.”

The jobs bill would provide upgrades or repairs to bridges, rail crossings, water treatment facilities, higher-education facilities, wetlands and other assets across Minnesota.

Locally, Dayton’s bill includes $42.9 million to rebuild the Kellogg Avenue Bridge, which is considered structurally deficient. The bridge connects downtown St. Paul with the city’s eastern neighborhoods and suburbs.

Also targeted for bonding funds are the seal and sea lions exhibit at Como Zoo ($14.5 million), the Dorothy Day ReVision project ($12 million) and improvements to the Minnesota Science Museum ($13 million).

“From transportation financing to economic development, the governor’s proposal reflects his commitment to ensuring a strong capital city – including critical investments in our transportation infrastructure and parks,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. “We are very appreciative of the governor’s support.”

The jobs bill also would provide $34.4 million for the renovation of vacant facilities and a new visitor center at Historic Fort Snelling.

Legislators will weigh Dayton’s jobs bill when the 2015-16 session reconvenes March 8. Bonding bills require a three-fifths majority vote – 81 representatives and 41 senators – in order to pass.