Today, Governor Tim Walz announced the largest budget surplus in the state’s history of $7.7 billion. This not only marks a significant milestone in our state but provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in this state’s infrastructure and workers.
Our roads and bridges are the backbone of America’s economy and a critical link in the supply chain. Unfortunately, many of those roads and bridges are deficient, unsafe, and at the end of their life span. Minnesota’s road and bridge deficit over the next 20 years is nearly $20 billion. The time to act is now.
Jason George, Business Manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, released the following statement.
“This historic surplus is an opportunity to invest even further in our state’s infrastructure and local workers. While we are pushing for Minnesota to receive as much of the federal infrastructure investment as possible through state matching, the time to rebuild Minnesota is now, and we don’t want to lose any momentum. By investing in our state’s infrastructure, we advance our state’s present and future.
Devoting additional dollars toward infrastructure will create family-sustaining jobs for workers today and help maintain and improve our existing infrastructure, which all Minnesotans know is long overdue. Right now, we are living off investments made by previous generations, and we need to act now to ensure that our infrastructure can meet the needs of generations to come.”
The “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, most recently graded Minnesota’s bridges with a “C.” Even worse, the state’s roads earned a dismal “D+” grade. These ratings are more than a letter on a piece of paper. The grades represent thousands of bridges and thousands of miles of roadway that are unsafe for citizens, inefficient for farmers and truckers, and a drag on the economy. With more public roadway miles than 45 other states, the stakes are especially high in Minnesota.
Roads and bridges are a core function of government, and every district in the state has critical needs in this area. Additional funding should be a bi-partisan priority, and that is why Local 49 calls upon the governor and the legislature to take action in the coming legislative session to greatly enhance road and bridge funding.