ST. PAUL — Surrounded by a group of union leaders and Minnesota workers on Wednesday, Oct. 21, Gov. Tim Walz signed into law a $1.9 billion jobs and projects bill.
The proposal authorizes funds for road and bridge, clean water and other state building projects around the state. And it includes a tax cut for farmers and small business owners as well as a temporary pay increase for personal care attendants and direct care and treatment providers.
Lawmakers received more than $5 billion in requests from local governments, colleges and state departments earlier this year. And after months of debates over a plan that could satisfy 60% of lawmakers in each the Senate and the House of Representatives, legislators reached an accord last week.
“We have an investment of historic proportions for Minnesota, whether it be local roads and bridges, or it be sewage treatment plants," Walz said. “It’s a sense of all of us coming together. There are projects that are equally spread throughout Greater Minnesota and the metro area, they span a whole variety of things that needed to be done and it was done because of hard work and because of bipartisanship and it was done because this is what Minnesota does."
The law approves the construction of a joint Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture lab, new buildings on the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State campuses and renovations on various campuses. The bill would fund $100 million in housing infrastructure bonds and grants for Greater Minnesota communities to get child care facilities up and running.
Walz said the state is set to begin bidding for projects in the coming months and work start dates are set to depend on timeframes for each individual project. And that was promising news for those working in the construction trades as new projects had dwindled recently.
"In order to build and maintain the 21st-century workforce that the state of Minnesota wants and needs, we need job opportunities for our members," Barry Davies, business manager of Ironworkers Union Local 512, said. "Right now there's not enough work to keep the construction industry afloat. This job package that Gov. Walz is going to sign today is going to take care of that."