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Letter: Juhnke explains bonding vote

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While I would argue it's too early, it appears by a recent letter in this paper from a local Republican Party spokesperson that campaign season has already begun. I want to be clear -- I voted against the final bonding bill because a critical project for our district was removed in negotiations with the governor. The Kandiyohi County veterans' geriatric mental illness facility, a project many of us in the community have been working on for six years, was replaced with a similar project in Minneapolis the governor said he needed before he would sign the bill. My vote and my efforts on behalf of this facility demonstrate my commitment to representing the residents of our district and the veterans of this state.

In an attempt to score some political points, the recent letter writer labeled our local projects in the bonding bill as pork. Let me just say this -- I don't consider the veterans' MI facility to be pork, and I'm quite sure the hundreds of veterans who would be treated there don't, either.

The Ridgewater College project to build adequate classrooms and lab space for their ag programs -- a project the governor vetoed -- was not pork. Neither were the 110 health care and hundreds of construction jobs from west central Minnesota these projects would have created.

Let me just add, dozens of projects in the bill were in Republican districts, and I'm sure those legislators do not consider their projects pork, either.

Now let's talk about those 20,000 construction jobs this bill will create. These are not just "state and federal" jobs, but workers hired by private construction firms, with design done by private architects. There will also be hundreds of spin-off jobs created in areas such as manufacturing, materials supply, food service, health care and retail. Our communities benefit when workers come here to eat at our restaurants, buy gas at our gas stations, and shop in our stores. These are real jobs, done by real people, many who live right here in Kandiyohi County or surrounding areas.

I'm proud of the dozens of projects I have helped bring into our district through bonding bills since I was first elected. For over 150 years, bonding bills have been exactly what Minnesota needed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Rep. Al Juhnke

District 13B

DFL-Willmar

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