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Published April 03, 2009, 12:00 AM

Pawlenty promises state aid for flood

Despite the state’s budget woes, Minnesota has the Red River Valley’s back. That’s the message Gov. Tim Pawlenty delivered on Thursday in Moorhead as he spoke to about 100 civic leaders about the recovery from flooding on the Red.

By: Dave Roepke, INFORUM

Despite the state’s budget woes, Minnesota has the Red River Valley’s back.

That’s the message Gov. Tim Pawlenty delivered on Thursday in Moorhead as he spoke to about 100 civic leaders about the recovery from flooding on the Red.

Though Minnesota faces a $4.6 billion deficit over the next two years, the governor vowed it will still be able to pay state matches required by whatever federal grants flood-stricken areas may land as they get back on their feet.

“We’ll have the ability to pay our share,” Pawlenty said. “It’ll get done.”

Public assistance that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can provide usually mandates a 25 percent match by state and local government, though in certain cases the match is as low as 10 percent.

Pawlenty also said there could be supplemental aid to local governments and schools to help pay for the cost of fending off the flood.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said the state has done that for other communities after disasters, so there’s a precedent.

Extra aid wouldn’t affect Pawlenty’s plan to trim the Local Government Aid Minnesota pays to cities such as Moorhead, which would see a $2.4 million cut over two years. Still, getting help soon to pay for the flood fight would be appreciated, Voxland said.

“We’re going to need something this session,” he said. “We’re spending money like crazy. But we’re winning. That’s the good news.”

Pawlenty addressed that good news, too. He said he was “proud of what happened,” calling the push to hold back the Red “remarkable.” He also recalled touring flooded areas of Oakport Township north of Moorhead on Monday.

“Their spirits were not broken,” Pawlenty said of homeowners who stayed to fight floodwaters.

The heads of Minnesota’s housing, economic development and transportation departments also spoke at the meeting, detailing state programs that could help with the recovery. Ways the state government can help in the wake of the flood are collected online at minnesotarecovers.org.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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