Workers to legislators: Finish the job on transportation, bonding

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Lori O’Malley, president of a small construction business in Le Center, speaks to the importance of stable transportation funding, especially in rural economies.

 

Construction workers and contractors formed a united front at the Capitol today in support of a special session allowing state legislators to compromise on two shared priorities – transportation and infrastructure – left unaddressed when session adjourned Sunday night.

Lawmakers “still have time to finish,” Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council President Harry Melander said at a press conference this morning, flanked by dozens of tradespeople in hard hats.

“We’re requesting that, with the leadership of the governor, legislators find a long-term solution to the state’s transportation crisis and pass a strong bonding bill that will provide not only needed infrastructure repairs in the Metro Area, but in greater Minnesota,” Melander said.

Such a compromise already is “on the table,” according to Dave Semerad, head of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota. It likely would involve some general fund money from a sales tax on auto parts, dedicated license tab fees, a local option to pay for transit projects and Met Council reform.

Harry Melander, a former industrial tech teacher, said there's still time for lawmakers to earn "a passing grade, not an (incomplete) on our state’s report card.”

Harry Melander (R), a former industrial tech teacher, said there’s still time for lawmakers to put “a passing grade, not an (incomplete) on our state’s report card.”

“All that’s lacking is political courage,” Semerad said. “Now’s the time for leadership, not partisan bickering and political games.”

Much is at stake in finding a compromise. The AGC’s 350 employers statewide rely on public investments to create jobs for 50,000 union tradespeople.

Lori O’Malley, president of a small construction business in Le Center, warned that without stable and continuous funding for transportation and infrastructure, “the industry will react, and those reactions will take a long time to recover from.”

With each year lawmakers wait to pass a long-term transportation plan, more of the state’s roads and bridges fall into disrepair. Already, more than half of Minnesota’s roads are more than 50 years old, and 40 percent of the state’s bridges are more than 40 years old.

“Our mission is to build a better Minnesota, but without long-term and sustained funding, it cannot be accomplished,” Semerad said.

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  1. […] most recent state legislative session was a mess, with lawmakers failing to act to repair Minnesota’s crumbling transportation infrastructure or make jobs-creating investments […]

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