City Council votes in favor of Mayor’s 2017 Legislative Agenda
Transportation financing, economic development and a focus on mental health services among top priorities
The Saint Paul City Council today (December 7, 2016) voted in favor of Mayor Chris Coleman’s proposed 2017 legislative agenda, with transportation financing, economic development and a focus on mental health services topping the list of priorities.
“We are still hopeful that some of our priorities can be addressed in a special session this month,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “The fact is, local communities are leading on all fronts and we need strong support from the Legislature and Administration in order to achieve our goals. From economic development to mental health services to strong transportation infrastructure, we look forward to a productive legislative session.”
Highlights of the legislative agenda include the following:
Push for Comprehensive Transportation Financing for Local Communities
The Mayor’s legislative agenda again calls for a new, comprehensive transportation financing package that gives local communities across the state additional resources and funding tools to meet the needs of their transportation systems. Eighty-four percent of city streets receive no state funding, and communities across Minnesota need a reliable funding source outside of the constitutional formula to meet growing needs.
The city also acknowledges the need for bridges across Minnesota to be repaired or replaced, including Saint Paul’s own Kellogg/3rd Street bridge, which is a critical artery connecting the East Side and greater East Metro to downtown Saint Paul. Because of this, the city supports at least $200 million in unrestricted bonding for the Local Bridge Program.
Mental Health Services
Mental health plays a role in everything from poverty to public safety – from education to unemployment and homelessness. It can be difficult for people to access the appropriate treatment at the right time. The Mayor supports the efforts of the Mental Health Legislative Network as well as the nine recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health.
Support for Economic Development in Saint Paul
The Mayor’s top bonding priorities for 2017 focus on continuing to provide interactive learning opportunities for children and families across the state of Minnesota. To do this, the Mayor supports $3 million in funding for the Great River Passage Environmental Learning Center, a possible location for the National Park Service Headquarters and an opportunity to provide kids access to the Mississippi River; as well as $15.5 million for the Como Zoo Habitat Preservation Exhibit Renovation for the Seals and Sea Lions exhibit. The other ranked bonding priorities are as follows:
RiverCentre Parking Ramp: $1 million in bonding to design a new convention center parking ramp, which would ensure the continued success of the convention center
Dorothy Day Phase 2: $12 million in bonding to predesign, design, construct, furnish and equip a Connection and Opportunity Center to serve as an integrated, one-stop delivery system connecting homeless individuals or people at risk of becoming homeless to services that improve their health, income, housing stability and well-being
Wakan Tipi Center: $3 million to design and construct the Wakan Tipi Center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
The city will also be seeking re-passage of an extension of the timeline for the Ford Site TIF district and the tax exemption on the site for the future Major League Soccer stadium, both of which passed during the 2016 session.
Property Tax Stabilization through Local Government Aid
Local Government Aid (LGA) remains an important program for Saint Paul, by helping to provide needed public services while stabilizing property taxes. LGA is nearly $14 million less than the amount certified for the city in 2003 – approximately $48 million less when adjusted for inflation.
To review the full legislative agenda, click here.