by Anthony Gockowski
Minnesota Democrats want $300 million for riot-damaged businesses, double what Gov. Tim Walz requested in his budget proposal.
Last summer’s riots caused an estimated $500 million in damage across the Twin Cities, but the debate over who will pay for the repairs has raged on ever since.
In November, Gov. Tim Walz authorized the use of $11.7 million from the State Disaster Assistance Contingency Account to pay for fire-related damage to public infrastructure.
His January budget proposal calls for another $150 million in redevelopment appropriation bonds to help repair businesses destroyed by rioters, a suggestion that was widely criticized by Republican lawmakers.
But Democrats have now introduced a bill that would authorize “the sale of $300 million in appropriation bonds to assist private businesses with physical infrastructure redevelopment needs.” According to a press release, $200 million would go to impacted businesses in Minneapolis and $100 million would be distributed to businesses in St. Paul.
“Minnesotans have stepped up in so many ways to help their neighbors, and while local and private funding initiatives have helped, the need remains too great and is more than those sources can cover alone,” said Rep. Fue Lee (DFL-Minneapolis) the chief author of the bill.
“This is an unprecedented and extraordinary situation, and the one-time use of appropriation bonds in this manner provides us with a means to release a large amount of funds to provide this sorely needed assistance without putting the general fund’s ability to provide for other essential areas of our state budget in jeopardy,” he added.
House Democrats said “there remains around $250 million in uninsured, infrastructure-related expenses for small businesses just along the Lake Street corridor in Minneapolis, not including publicly owned buildings or those owned by large corporations.”
The bill recently passed out of the House Capital Investment Committee on a party-line vote and has been referred to the Workforce and Business Development Committee for further discussion.
“This critical legislation is part of our ongoing conversation on racial healing and rebuilding our communities,” said Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL-St. Paul) one of 17 DFL co-authors of the bill.
“It’s important for us to preserve the unique character of our impacted commercial and cultural corridors within our BIPOC communities,” he continued. “Furthermore, we ought to be doing all we can to ensure our mom and pop shops, especially, can recover from the civil unrest and ongoing pandemic and emerge stronger than before.”
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News.