After the hit Minnesota took in the Great Recession of 2008, we were promised that lawmakers would “focus like a laser” on creating jobs.
That didn’t work out so well. They lost focus, and two years went by with no action on jobs. We were fortunate that the national economy recovered enough that our unemployment rate went down, but too many Minnesotans — and far too many Minnesota vets — remain looking for work. Just last week we learned that Minnesota lost 5,200 jobs in March.
That’s why I am excited about the bonding bill that was introduced. The 2013 Omnibus Bonding bill is estimated to create 22,800 jobs by allocating $800 million in general obligation bonds for statewide infrastructure improvements and investments in higher education, transportation, housing, economic development, clean water and wastewater systems.
Among the projects included in the bill is one very important to District 11A. The bill allocates $4.5 million in funds to allow the Big Lake Area Sanitary District to construct a pressure sewer system and force man to convey sewage to the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District connection in the city of Cloquet.
This project will allow up to an additional 115 homes along Big Lake Road to hook up to the Cloquet force main connection. This is an effective and permanent solution to the issue of failing septic systems around Big Lake. It is a project that is essential to the environmental future of the Big Lake area.
This is a project that has been a priority of mine since the start of the 2013 session when I introduced a bill to provide funds to start the project. The rest of the project will be funded through a $7 million grant and a $2.6 million loan from the USDA Rural Development. The Big Lake Area Sanitary District Board is actively engaged in the formal application process for this loan.
This funding package is both financially appropriate and affordable and will solve wastewater problems for residents and property owners of Perch Lake Township, Fond Du Lac Band of Chippewa and Carlton County.
Since the start of the 2013 session, I’ve been working tirelessly on getting this project done. It was the second bill I introduced, on January 17, and have pushed and prodded my colleagues to support it since.
This is a potentially life-changing project — and not just because it will solve the issue of failing septic systems around Big Lake. It will lower the unemployment rate in northeastern Minnesota, and it will also benefit the public health and welfare of our area. The Big Lake area’s excellent water quality is one of the finest natural resources in northeast Minnesota. Therefore, we need to work to preserve this asset. When we protect our water quality, we also protect our property values. Taking preventative action to protect our water quality is easier and more economical than restoring a degraded resource.