International Walk to School Day at Lyndale Community School in Minneapolis
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced the recipients of $4.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School. The grants will support Safe Routes to School at 138 schools in 50 communities.
“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”
Schools received grants in two categories:
MnDOT announced the available grants in December 2013. It received 85 applications and funded 60 applications. The total amount requested was $11.3 million.
All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds. The infrastructure grant includes a 20 percent local match. Each infrastructure grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support. No local match is required for planning assistance grants.
Since 2005, MnDOT awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding—$13.1 million—was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder was allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities.
This solicitation used the remaining federal Safe Routes to School funds. Federal funding for the program is now available through the new Transportation Alternatives Program. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.
The list of grant recipients is below. More information is available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
We are governors from neighboring states and different political parties. We don't agree on everything, but we stand united in our belief that our nation needs a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and together in our opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to weaken the RFS.
Since Congress enacted the RFS in 2005 by huge bipartisan margins, it has provided the secure policy foundation that rural America needs to continue investments in renewable fuels. Those investments yield excellent returns. They diversify our nation's energy portfolio, clean the air, grow opportunities for businesses, create good paying jobs in rural America, add value to farm products, and give consumers lower-cost choices at the pump.
Big Oil dislikes renewable fuels, and has used its clout in Washington D.C. and at state capitals to thwart their progress. When Minnesota became the first state to require all gasoline sold to contain at least 10 percent ethanol (E10), Big Oil predicted fearsome disasters. They warned that ethanol would clog cars' carburetors and explode their engines, disrupt supply lines causing gasoline shortages, and increase the price at the pump for consumers. None of that happened.
The petroleum industry also claimed that the RFS causes higher fuel prices. In fact, the opposite has proven true. On February 4, 2014, regular gasoline in Cresco, Iowa, a town about 15 minutes from the Iowa-Minnesota border, was selling for $3.44 per gallon. E10 was selling at $3.13 per gallon. E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol, was selling for $2.60 per gallon at the same station - 84 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline.
A recent study at Iowa State University found that, "Feasible increases in the ethanol mandate in 2014 will cause a small decline in the price of E10. Our results should reassure those in Congress and the Administration who are worried that following the RFS commitment to expanding the use of renewable fuels will result in sharply higher fuel prices for consumers."
The Environmental Protection Agency previously estimated that by 2022, renewable fuels would replace 13.6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel consumption and save motorists nearly $12 billion each year. The EPA also predicted that this displacement of gasoline and diesel would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 138 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 27 million vehicles from our nation's highways. Ethanol can increase competition and save consumers money, provide real choice at the pump, and drive innovations and efficiencies that are good for the economy.
$986 Million Bonding Bill Invests in Needed Infrastructure Improvements across Minnesota
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton today introduced a bonding proposal that would invest $986 million in infrastructure projects statewide, creating more than 27,000 Minnesota jobs1. This new jobs bill would help addresses many of the state’s critical infrastructure needs, while strengthening Minnesota’s economy and getting people back to work.
“My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state,” said Governor Dayton. “This bill gives priority to projects that are ready to go. Many of them have been delayed for years and are crucial to revitalizing downtown business centers, modernizing MnSCU and U of M buildings and classrooms, and improving parks, roads, and local infrastructure.”
Regional Civic Centers and Downtown Improvements
The Governor’s bonding proposal invests over $104 million in downtown areas and regional centers statewide – projects that will create jobs, attract additional private investment, and support economic development in communities across Minnesota. Some of those downtown investments include:
Photo content: Flickr User Doug Kerr; US Highway 10 – Minnesota
Minnesotans depend on their roads, bridges, and highways every day. Minnesota businesses also require access to good roads as they move goods and services to market. Recently, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced that ten highway construction projects will receive funding through the state’s new $300 million Corridors of Commerce program. These new projects will reduce travel times and improve safety for Minnesota citizens and help businesses transport their products more efficiently.
Governor Dayton understands that in order to achieve a world-class economy, we must prioritize investments in our metro area transit system.
That is why the governor’s budget includes a commitment to a multi-modal transit system that will give Minnesota a competitive edge for growing business and jobs, drawing new talent, and serving the transit needs of a growing and aging population. In support of Governor Dayton’s increased transit funding is Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke.
I write to express the support of the Shakopee City Council for your proposal to increase the sales tax for transit purposes by 1/4 cent in the seven-county Metropolitan Area. On Tuesday, February 19, the City Council and I voted to support this proposal. We share your belief that the development of a complete and competitive transit system in the Region is key to its long-term economic competitiveness and vitality. The development of a complete and multi-modal transit system in the Twin Cities Region will also be of great benefit to the Region’s workers and residents. The $200 million per year your proposal is expected to generate is essential to completing important rail, LRT, and BRT projects in the Region, as well as assuring that areas like Scott County can continue to expand local and express bus service that will help to best utilize the investments in regional roadways. In Shakopee, we have been committed to the beneficial expansion of transit options that serve our residents and businesses. Most recently, this has been expressed in the partnership between the cities of Shakopee and Prior Lake, and Scott County. This partnership led to the creation of the BlueXpress in July of 2007, a commuter service which has continued to experience among the greatest rates of growth of any regional bus service provider (9% increase in 2012). We look forward to working with you, your office, and the Legislature on the implementation of this important proposal.
Brad Tabke Mayor, City of Shakopee
Today, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh were joined by a group of mayors and county commissioners at a Capitol news conference urging legislators to support Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to increase Minnesota’s investment in transit.
Joining Rybak, Coleman, and Haigh were Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller, Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, Savage Mayor Janet Williams, and Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris. In their words, Governor Dayton’s transit plan: "would create a 21st century transit system in Minnesota, which is critical for job creation, economic prosperity and our ability to be globally competitive."
This afternoon, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller will meet with college students in Winona to discuss student debt, and Governor Dayton’s plan to increase higher education funding – including $80 million in direct financial aid to students. The governor’s proposed investment in the Minnesota State Grant Program would help make college more affordable students like Rahel Theodros. Under the governor’s plan, Rahel would receive an additional $1,200 in direct student aid. More information about Rahel’s story is attached and below.
Later today, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson will visit with hospital administrators and medical professionals in St. Cloud. Commissioner Jesson will discuss health care investments in Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, and other strategies to reform Minnesota’s health care system.
In the News
Winona Daily News
William Mann: Budget proposal helps make college possible for some
As the president of Saint Mary’s University, one of the three institutions of higher education that call Winona home, I am compelled to speak for our students and families and commend Gov. Mark Dayton for making quality, affordable college education a priority in his most recent budget proposal.
Particularly meaningful among the priorities he has laid out is a 25 percent increase in funding for the Minnesota State Grant program. The state grant is a need-based state award which offers low- and middle-class students at Minnesota colleges or universities an annually renewable grant for tuition, books or living expenses while attending college. The program benefits students attending both public and private institutions of higher education.
The proposed increase to the state grant would help even more low- and middle-class families pay for college. According to the state Minnesota Office of Higher Education, current grant recipients would see their grants increase by an average of $300 per year. And 5,000 additional students would become eligible to receive grants. Many of these newly eligible recipients come from middle-class families that earn $50,000 or more per year and are ineligible for the federal Pell Grant.
In Minnesota, infrastructure improvement is one of the most critical issues facing the state's transportation system. Extreme weather, the age of the system and competing investment needs results in roads that are in great need of maintenance and improvement. In 2011, approximately 700 miles of Minnesota's highways were classified as being in "poor" condition. Despite dedicated pavement investments, the miles in "poor" condition were projected to steadily increase to 1,900 by the year 2020.
In response, the Minnesota Department of Transportation worked with Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature to establish Better Roads for a Better Minnesota.
The Autism Help App assists individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other disabilities to communicate and regulate in emergency situations.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is making important progress toward building a Better Minnesota by working to provide sustainable options to safely move people, goods, services, and information.
The success of Minnesota’s economy depends on a transportation system that safely and efficiently gets people and goods where they need to be. Our roadways, bridges, and rail systems are continuously improving thanks to Governor Dayton’s strong leadership. In addition to strong physical infrastructure, Minnesota citizens and businesses need affordable access to the high-tech infrastructure that drives our global economy, including high-speed internet in every corner of our state.
The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (DDC) at the Minnesota Department of Administration has developed a free award winning mobile device application that helps individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) communicate in emergency situations.
Using a proven 5-point, color-coded scale, the Application can be customized for an individual or family. In an emergency situation, a parent’s calming voice can explain what to do. For example, in the case of a fire, the App shows a picture of a safe meeting place and the parent’s voice instructs the individual to go there. The 5-Point Scale was created by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Beth Curtis of Hamline University, which is a nationally known and accepted system, widely used in public schools.
This mobile tool is designed to be simple and user friendly. To date, more than 16,300 people have downloaded this App.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is continuing his efforts to build a Better Minnesota. The Dayton Administration is taking note of what has been accomplished so far while still considering the work that is yet to be done.
One important component of building a Better Minnesota is supporting a clean and healthy environment. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes and a state where people care about the health and integrity of our natural resources. A healthy environment is central to the quality of life that all Minnesotans enjoy, and a crucial component in the success of our economy. Governor Dayton is committed to protecting and improving our natural resources, and leaving a legacy of clean water, cleaner air, and better parks and trails for future generations of Minnesotans.
For years, the Minnesota River has been considered one of the most polluted rivers in the state. But collaborative efforts across agencies have made important progress toward improving the health of the river.
Recent testing from the Pollution Control Agency showed marked improvements in dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels. That means conditions have improved to support the health of fish and aquatic species populations in the river.
More work must be done to reduce sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and other contaminants in the river. But the work of over 40 wastewater treatment plants and other clean up efforts have put the Minnesota River on the path to recovery.
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is making important progress toward building a Better Minnesota. Measuring that progress by the improvements Minnesotans have seen in their lives, families, communities, and economy, the Dayton Administration is taking inventory of what has been accomplished thus far, and considering the work that still remains to be done.
One crucial measure of that progress is ensuring the safety of Minnesotans, which is one of the most important functions of state government. Our quality of life depends on the safety of our homes and communities. Governor Dayton is committed to improving safety on or roadways, in our workplaces, and in our neighborhoods. Governor Dayton is working to reduce the incidence of violent crime in our communities, keep drunk drivers off the road, and ensure that emergency personnel have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.
The Department of Public Safety has launched several new programs to keep drunk drivers off the road in Minnesota.
The Triple Check program is designed to ensure that Minnesota does not issue a license to anyone with an active record of drunk driving in other states. To date, the program has prevented almost 15,000 drunk drivers from unlawfully obtaining a driver’s license in Minnesota.
The Ignition Interlock program requires convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober with a breath test before their car will start. Nearly 2,900 drunk drivers are currently enrolled in Ignition Interlock, with 289 drivers successfully completing the program.