Editor’s note: This article is the latest in a series submitted by the Cass County DFL Party that will be published once a month.
The need for action is clear and recently state-level data demonstrates that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver for Minnesota. For decades, infrastructure in Minnesota has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. In fact,the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota a C grade on its infrastructure report card.
The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will make life better for millions of Minnesota residents, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth, and position the United States to win the 21st century.
The Act will repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users including cyclists and pedestrians. Based on formula funding alone Minnesota would expect to receive $4.5 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $302 million for bridge replacement and repairs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years.
Minnesota can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investments Program for economically significant bridges. Nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill is dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities. Healthy sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans will be improved. Minnesotans who take public transportation spend an extra 49.8 percent of their time commuting, and non-White households are 2.8 times more likely to commute via public transportation. Eleven percent of trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past their useful life.
Based on formula funding alone, Minnesota would expect to receive $820 million over five years under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve public transportation options across the state. This will be accomplished by building a network of EV chargers to facilitate long-distance travel and provide convenient charging options. The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The President believes that must change.
The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States and is a critical element in the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. Under the Act Minnesota will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.
One of the Act’s benchmark apportionment’s is dedicated to help connect every American to reliable high-speed internet. Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care and to stay connected. Yet 12 percent of Minnesota households do not have an internet subscription, and 1.5 percent of Minnesotans live in areas where, under the FCC’s benchmark, there is no broadband infrastructure.
Under the Act Minnesota will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 83,000 Minnesotans who currently lack it. And under the Act, 1,071,000 or 18.9 percent of people in Minnesota will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.
The most recent economics forecast released shows, Minnesota’s economy is strong, thanks to the leadership of Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, and the DFL lawmakers. Due to the smart budgetary decisions made by the Walz-Flanagan Administration, Minnesota has a budget surplus of $7.7 billion.
At the beginning of the pandemic Gov. Walz stated that Minnesota did not have to choose between saving lives and protecting our economy. He was right, and this historic budget surplus proves it. Minnesota has such a strong surplus because Governor Walz and DFL leaders made smart budgetary decisions at every turn while protecting Minnesotans from COVID-19.
The strong economy that the Walz-Flanagan Administration built gives us the opportunity to lower costs for Minnesota families, invest in the working and middle class, and help those still recovering from the pandemic. It offers us the ability to financially support schools where students and teachers still struggle with the present and past academic and emotional effects of the pandemic. It is time to start seriously strong pro-family and pro-worker policies, like paid leave and investments in child care and healthcare to lower costs for Minnesotans.
We all do better when we all do better.
The information in this column aims to be: fact based, relatable and based on issues people care about. — Cass County DFL Party
The views and opinions expressed in the “A fresh look” column are not that of The Pilot-Independent or an organization, committee or individual.