The House passed the omnibus funding bill yesterday; MinnPost's Cynthia Dizikes summarizes statements by Minnesota's delegation in Peterson joins Republicans and votes against 'omnibus' spending bill.
KEYC-TV reports in Area Projects Benefit From Stimulus Money:
The money for MSUM's project should give more of those young engineering students at last Friday Repower America Town Hall Forum an opportunity to learn more about green energy and jobs. And more for improving Highway 14? Simply a life saver.
The bill also ncludes a provision to block the COLA increase for members. Walz was an original co-sponsor of a separate provision to do so, H.R. 156. Peterson and Kline signed on later. Insert our own snark about Paulsen and Bachmann being for pay raises for themselves buy voting against the omnibus bill and failing to co-sponsor the separate item (H.R. 156).
Walz's congressional office issued a press release about funding in the bill for Southern Minnesota. Other familiar items on the list include funding for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, Upper Mississippi River navigation and ecosystem projects, the Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University, flood mitigation in Owatonna and other requests from the lists of earmarks (2007 and 2008) that Walz has published earlier in order to help make the process more tranparent for his constituents.
While some political observers like to kvetch about earmarks in the abstract, Walz's specific requests have largely met with approval in the district press. The Owatonna People's Press pointed out in An Earmark That Makes Sense, an editorial last year about the flood migitation project:
". . .there are times when the projects are worthwhile. The earmark that Mr. Walz has proposed for Owatonna is one such case. What makes it important is that it is not a bridge to nowhere, but funds which will help a community prevent flooding and help residents keep their homes from being damaged. Keeping people and their property safe from the ravages of Mother Nature seems a worthwhile goal for the government."
A day later, we made the case for funding the work of the Hormel Institute in a post Another common sense earmark: Austin's Hormel Institute. The biomedical at the Institute is largely directed at finding cures for cancer.
WALZ ANNOUNCES FUNDS FOR KEY LOCAL PROJECTS, KEEPING JOBS IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA
Appropriations requests clear major hurdle, likely to become law in March
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Tim Walz announced that Congress is likely to approve federal funding this week to sixteen important local projects that will help create and save jobs across southern Minnesota.
Walz said the funds are included in the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which is expected to pass the House of Representatives later today. The Senate is expected to take action on the bill in the coming days before sending it to President Obama for his signature.
“Projects like Highway 14 are critically important to southern Minnesota’s economic recovery,” said Walz. “These funds will not only create jobs as we expand the existing highway to four lanes, but it will also create economic opportunity for the majority of southern Minnesota’s businesses, who use Highway 14 to ship their goods.”
The funding in the FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill is in addition to dollars already targeted for these projects through the regular state budget and through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was enacted earlier this month.
“These funds will do more than just create jobs,” continued Walz. “These dollars strengthen the fabric of our communities. Because of projects like the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, Bolder Options, the Sherriff’s Youth Program, and Winona State’s National Child Protection Training Center, our children will drink clean water, receive invaluable support from caring adult mentors, and be less likely to fall pray to child predators. Investments like these in the future of our country are priceless.”
“Finally, these funds support the ongoing investment in renewable energy production, medical research, and education that President Obama called for last night in his address to Congress. The alignment between southern Minnesota’s priorities and the President’s goals could not be more apparent than in this list of projects I requested on behalf of the community leaders and citizens of southern Minnesota,” concluded Walz.
The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill funding at the request of Congressman Walz for the following projects:
$200,000 for Bolder Options
To expand Bolder Options' youth mentorship program into the Rochester area
$713,625 for the Center for Renewable Energy at Minnesota State University, Mankato
This funding would support on-going research into cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable forms of energy.
$290,000 for Crop Disease Research at the University of Minnesota
Research into crop diseases that threaten Minnesota's wheat, oat and barley industries.
$235,000 for the Competitive Farm Benchmarking Program at the University of Minnesota Funding for a project that helps farmers compare their costs of production and maximize their efficiencies of operation.
$323,000 for Hormel Institute in Austin Funds would help the Hormel Center develop an International Center of Research Technology to provide cutting edge technology to biomedical researchers from across the country and the world.
$2,375,000 Hwy 14 Waseca-Owatonna
Funds would support the four-lane expansion of Highway 14 from Waseca to I-35 at Owatonna.
$475,000 for 55th Street in Rochester
Funds would provide for final design, right-of-way acquisition and first stage construction of a 1.9 mile extension of 55th Street as a 4-lane expressway.
$27,000,000 for Lewis and Clark Regional Water System Centered in twenty communities in western Minnesota, northern Iowa, and eastern South Dakota, this pipeline provides treated water from the Missouri River to more than 300,000 people in three states.
Several Members of Congress from three states requested this funding. This area is so desperately short of water that there are restrictions on constructing new small business and residences; the pipeline will be essential to the economic viability of these small towns. Many of the communities involved have pre-paid the local share of the project, in order to keep inflationary costs at a minimum, and are only awaiting the federal share.
$700,000 for the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University
The Center trains social workers, teachers, and health care professionals to recognize and report signs of child abuse.
$500,000 for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota and Iowa
This project will support land acquisition to add acreage to the refuge.
$181,000 for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Fresh Start Disease Prevention Program
Funds would support the expansion of a chronic disease management program in Wabasha to help participants reduce their risk of heart disease.
$190,000 for St. Mary’s University’s Teacher Mentorship Program
Funds would help expand the university's educator professional development programs by using technology to allow greater outreach to teachers in MN with impact on thousands of students in critical STEM subjects.
$200,000 for Sheriffs Youth Program in Rochester.
Funding would support the expansion of SYP’s services for at-risk youth.
$712,000 for Transit Operations Center in Rochester
Would fund the construction of a new 60-bus garage facility; as well as a new park-and-ride facility in Rochester.
$8,604,000 for Upper Mississippi River Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program
This multi-state project was requested by several Members of Congress. It will provide for the first phases of construction of new 1,200 foot lock chambers at several locks and dams along the Mississippi, implement small-scale navigation aids; and begin ecosystem restoration projects along the Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway.
$951,000 for Veterans Re-Entry Education Program in St. Paul
Funds would help Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and three state agencies create programs to help returning veterans find employment and educational opportunities.
While most of the federal funding for FY2009 was delayed until now, some funding bills did become law before President Bush left office. In the FY2009 bills that became law last year, Walz also secured the following funding:
$2 million for the Minnesota National Guard Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program
$704,000 for the National Guard's Minnesota Army National Guard Armory Emergency Response Generators
$1.3 million for the Minnesota Helicopter Civil Band Radio Communication $2.224 million for Minnesota Satellite Multi-Modal Collaborative Crisis and Training Network $400,000 for flood mitigation in Owatonna, Minnesota