Now that the four Minnesota House and Senate caucus leaders have agreed to a midnight, Saturday, May 9 deadline for bills, we are expecting a flurry of activity as lawmakers race to complete a long list of priorities, including the omnibus bonding and tax bills. Of particular interest will be whether or not the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate can reconcile significant partisan differences to pass these bills. To make things even more unpredictable, reconciliation between the two chambers must take place under the dark cloud of a Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) outlook that is projecting a $2.43 billion budget deficit for the biennium. Regardless of how this ends, these next 12 days before the May 18 regular legislative session deadline will be critical in determining whether park and trail projects across the state are part of a final bonding compromise.
Bonding bill in limbo but many parks and trails projects still in play
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic having changed the world as we know it, the Parks & Trails Council had been working hard to secure bonding investments in parks and trails projects throughout the state.
While the focus on these priorities may have faded from view while Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature were navigating this unprecedented emergency, we have all watched people flock to our state’s parks and trails in record numbers during this global pandemic. If lawmakers ever wondered how important parks and trails are to Minnesotans they need not wonder any longer.
Tell Lawmakers that bonding for parks and trails is needed now more than ever
While we are pleased with many of the bonding proposals that have been introduced this session, lawmakers must now start putting all of the pieces together into their respective omnibus capital investment bills. That means now is the time to urge legislative leadership to include all of the parks and trails funding from Gov. Walz’s bonding proposal (HF4558 | SF4597) in the final bill. The governor’s proposal funds parks and trails statewide and includes:
- $70 million for Natural Resources Asset Preservation, including $4.8 million to accelerate state trail rehabilitation as recommended in our State of the Trails Report;
- $30 million for Natural Resources Acquisition;
- $25 million for Natural Resource Betterment of Buildings;
- $10 million for improving accessibility in state parks;
- $4 million to fund Parks and Trails Local and Regional Grant Programs; and
- $10 million for Metro Regional Parks and Trails Capital Improvements.
- $1.75 million for Blazing Star State Trail
- $1.25 million for Gateway State Trail
- $900 thousand for Mississippi Blufflands State Trail
We support additional trail projects, which you can learn about here.