Martin: Dayton's public works proposal is a smart investment in our future

As Gov. Mark Dayton heads into the home stretch of his tremendously successful administration, his goal now, as it was when he stepped into office eight years ago, is to leave Minnesota a better place than when he started. The governor's recently...
Undated courtesy photo, circa Feb. 2015, of Ken Martin, who was re-elected in Feb. 2015 to a third two-year term as chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

As Gov. Mark Dayton heads into the home stretch of his tremendously successful administration, his goal now, as it was when he stepped into office eight years ago, is to leave Minnesota a better place than when he started. The governor's recently announced public works proposal goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

The proposal would invest $1.5 billion into ensuring Minnesota is a safe, healthy place to live. The bill would ensure our students receive a world-class education, our communities have access to clean water, and our state has the infrastructure it needs to compete in the 21st century economy.

Minnesota's higher education institutions are world-class and have long been one of our state's most valuable and cherished assets. Yet many of those institutions lay in various states of disrepair. This bonding bill will ensure that the quality of school facilities are finally commensurate with the high-quality education students are receiving from Minnesota state colleges and universities. It would also allow our schools to admit more students-helping to address our state's current shortage of high-skilled workers.

As Minnesotans, water is a cherished part of our culture. We expect our water to be safe for drinking, swimming and fishing. Yet, over 40 percent of our state's waters are considered impaired or polluted. Dayton's bill would invest $167 million into projects to update aging water treatment systems and protect bodies of water across the state. This much-needed action will help provide clean drinking water and protect the land of 10,000 lakes for generations to come.

Investing in Minnesota's future also means investing in Minnesota's economy. From renovating veterans' homes to repairing weak bridges, the bonding bill would create an estimated 22,950 jobs across our state. This activity would help put Minnesotans to work, boost economic growth, and ensure Minnesota's financial health long into the future.

Dayton's bill is a win-win: It invests in Minnesota's tomorrow while creating economic growth today. The Legislature should run, not walk, to pass this important proposal in the upcoming session. Minnesota will be better for it.

Martin is chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.