Bonding bill could be a boon for the area but it’s tied to Social Security
A pair of freshmen legislators from northeast Minnesota have found a way to bring home the bacon to their district.
Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL-Hermantown) and Rep. Roger Skraba (R-Ely) worked together to get a number of projects included in the bonding bill that is making its way through the House and Senate.
Skraba sits on the House Capital Investment committee that oversees bonding projects and Hauschild is the swing vote in the Senate, therefore wielding some political power.
The House bill had six projects in Skraba’s district. Hauschild’s district had 10 projects in the House bill and then he was able to get four more added when the Senate’s bonding committee took up the bill on March 10 for a total of over $57 million.
That’s a lot of money heading out of the metro and lends hope that despite the DFL trifecta of running the House, Senator and Governor’s office, northern Minnesota will see some positive news out of St. Paul this session.
Right here in the Ely area, there is $500,000 to add on to the Prospector ATV trail system, $2 million for a housing development in Babbitt and $3.633 million for classroom and common space renovations at Vermilion Community College in Ely. There’s also $11 million for a visitor center and other amenities at the Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.
Those dollars equate to jobs and a stimulus for Ely’s economy, something that failed to materialize in the last session when the divided legislature could not reach an agreement on a multitude of issues, including a bonding bill.
This year’s bill is politically tied to eliminating the tax on Social Security benefits. But give Hauschild credit as he has stood his ground on this while others in his party have backtracked.
Let’s hope there’s a way to a final resolution on both the bonding bill and Social Security. Ely will be a beneficiary for both.