Get ‘shovel ready’ to rumble

Two items today from Jon Collins, the legislative correspondent for several Range newspapers, illustrate the way the federal stimulus package could be invoked in Minnesota’s budget mess.

First, one analysis says that Minnesota could receive up to $3.23 billion in federal aid. That billion with a big “B.” For what? For who? It’d be exciting if it weren’t for the fact that even if every penny went toward closing the budget gap, that gap would still be only halfway closed. And we know a portion of that money will be dedicated to “shovel ready” transportation, infrastructure and communication projects.

That’s why representatives are already lining up concepts that will get on the funding list. Among the northern projects, State Rep. Tom Anzelc is proposing a bill that would (often literally) pave the way for several Iron Range infrastructure projects to be included in the federal stimulus package. Anzelc’s mission is to get these projects on the list as “shovel ready” so that they aren’t lost in the shuffle. Also included is the completion of the four lane Highway 169 from Pengilly to Taconite, which is a vital transportation project. If that happens under these fiscal and political conditions it is a straight-up miracle, but worth a shot.

(Disclosure: I am Tom Anzelc’s campaign chair).

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