Policy Priorities for 2016

The Minnesota Legislature will gavel into session on March 8. As always, Greater Mankato Growth (GMG) will keep our members up to speed on key issues and provide the information you’ll need to be an advocate for your business. Be sure to stay tuned to this blog next week for a post that will review the upcoming session and preview key issues businesses should keep an eye on.

GMG’s board of directors has also approved a set of policy priorities that our organization will pursue in the 2016 session. I’ve highlighted our top priorities, including Highway 14 expansion and extension of the local 1/2% sales tax below. GMG’s priorities are also supportive of the policy positions of the Greater Minnesota Partnership (which include broadband expansion and workforce housing, among others). And for the first time, GMG endorsed the Minnesota Chamber’s policy priorities as a federation partner. This year the Chamber is focused on reducing the statewide business property tax and securing a long-term transportation finance bill. You can check out GMG’s full slate of policy priorities here. Further, if you’d like additional background on our policy process, check out our advocacy flow chart. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions (pbaker@greatermankato.com / 507-385-6657)

GMG’s Top Priorities

  • Highway 14 – Thanks to the state’s new Corridors of Commerce program, we’ve seen some progress on expanding four-lane segments on Hwy. 14 over the past three years. However, this crucial east-west link across key southern-Minnesota regional centers continues to have two-lane gaps; a 12 mile gap between Nicollet and New Ulm and a 12 mile gap between Owatonna and Dodge Center. To complete these remaining segments would require about $300 million. GMG will be advocating strongly along with the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership and other regional partners to secure maximum funding for the Corridors of Commerce program to finally finish this longstanding priority. GMG is bolstering our case with new research we released in January showing that Hwy. 14 is the most densely populated highway corridor in the state without a four lane connection.
  • Local Sales Tax Extension – Both Mankato and North Mankato have introduced legislation that would allow them to extend their current 1/2% sales tax to 2038, contingent on voter approval at a referendum. The $63 million in new borrowing generated by an extension would be invested in a series of critical regional infrastructure projects such as water quality, flood control, transportation, and public safety communications. Additionally, the extension would support investments in regional recreation facilities, both existing and new, that will address a critical lack of recreation space for our growing population and position our region with the amenities and livability factors that will attract and retain the workforce our business community needs.

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