By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As a way to promote his “Local Jobs and Projects Plan,” Governor Walz took a tour today, 80 feet below ground. Pushing for more funding for water quality, Walz walked through a storm tunnel in Minneapolis that was damaged by flooding in 2010.

Gov. Tim Walz unveiled the second of a proposed four packages for his Local Jobs and Projects Plan, and this part says Minnesota should borrow $300 million to replace aging infrastructure and upgrade treatment facilities to protect its water supplies.

Experts say the tunnel Walz toured Friday has been repaired since the flood, but it could be better.

“It’s not going to get cheaper to do it. We are in a financial capacity in the state where we can do it and these are the things in the state that each generation needs to reinvest in,” Walz said. “These are the kinds of critical projects we can’t ignore any longer. That’s why investing in our state’s water quality future isn’t a choice, it’s an imperative.”

The governor is proposing the state invest $300 million to replace aging infrastructure and upgrade water treatment facilities across the state, with public health and the environment in mind. To get it done he wants to add jobs and believes the initiative will help small towns who can’t afford to upgrade their water systems.

Gov. Tim Walz tours a Minneapolis storm tunnel (credit: CBS)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says our state’s changing climate is only adding to the urgency.

“Increased precipitation events like more frequent, heavy rains or massive snowfalls followed by quick, melting periods are putting aging storm water and wastewater systems under significant pressure,” Laura Bishop said. “We must invest in climate resiliency.”

On Thursday, Walz unveiled a proposed investment of $276 million in safe and affordable housing projects across the state.

Republicans have called the overall $2 billion spending bill “extreme.”

“In addition to bonding, what we would like to see is let’s reduce what costs to build a house,” Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said. “Two billion [dollars] is pretty extreme. It’s twice what we have done in the last 10 or 15 years.”

The House Democratic majority is expected to offer a plan as big as $3.5 billion in the coming weeks, while Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said Thursday that he’d be more comfortable with a bonding bill in the range of the last two, which totaled $825 million and $998 million.

State Republicans are expected to announce their bonding bill proposals on Monday.

John Lauritsen

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