The Potluck

From Daily Reformer: Hortman wants a public works bill in September

By: - July 21, 2021 4:27 pm

A road in Winona County damaged by flooding. An infrastructure bill would help repair Minnesota water and transportation networks in need of maintenance. Photo courtesy of FEMA.

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News: House Speaker Melissa Hortman told me this morning after a session with her new lawn edger that she’s restarting infrastructure bonding bill talks, hoping to hammer it out by a September special legislative session. That’s when lawmakers are expected to return to pass a bill that would divvy up the $250 million set aside for pandemic essential workers. (More on that from me soon-ish.) 

Hortman told me chairs of the bonding committees, including Sen. Tom Bakk and other legislative leadership, have been in talks about an infrastructure bill but ran out of time given the rush to finish the overall $52 billion budget. 

She said it’s a good time to do a bill because interest rates could rise, and getting some bread-and-butter projects out of the way — maintenance on public assets like university buildings and water treatment, for instance — would make it easier to do the more high profile projects next year. 

“You can’t have a house and not occasionally repair the roof. Typically states are not great about taking care of stuff they already have. The critique is that everyone wants to build something new and have a ribbon cutting. But you gotta keep up on maintenance, or you will have assets that aren’t worth as much,” Hortman said. “It’s a little like edging your lawn, you gotta keep on it.”

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J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and toddler son.