Jobs bill includes nominal funding for GMNP priorities

The jobs bill — the last bill that needed to be completed before the special session — was released late Wednesday night. Like the previous jobs bill that was vetoed by Gov. Dayton at the end of the regular session, this new version contains funding for several GMNP and Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) priorities including broadband, workforce housing, job training and the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant program. The amount of money for these programs in the new bill is also very similar to what was allocated in the vetoed one. Here is how the GMNP/CGMC priorities fared:

  • Broadband – Although Gov. Dayton said earlier this week that he was pushing for additional broadband funding, the final bill includes only $10.6 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program — the same amount as in the vetoed bill.
  • Workforce housing – The bill expands the workforce housing pilot program that was created last year under the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This grant program will receive $1.37 million in FY 2016 and $2 million a year thereafter. The special session bill also restricts the program to Greater Minnesota — a welcome change from the vetoed bill, which would have allowed the grants to be used statewide.
  • Job training – The bill includes $900,000 for FY 2016 and $900,000 for FY 2017 for a new, employer-driven job training program.
  • BDPI – The BDPI program receives $1.9 million in FY 2016 and $1.3 million in FY 2017 under the bill. However, all of the money for 2016 is earmarked to go to Cambridge and Taylors Falls. An additional $1 million for the BDPI program is also included in the bonding bill.

While we are glad that these important issues were addressed in the jobs bill, we are disappointed that they weren’t funded at the levels necessary to truly foster economic growth throughout Greater Minnesota.