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Editorial: It’s time to invest in broadband, transportation

Minnesota is falling significantly behind on its infrastructure in transportation and broadband around this state, while the legislators sit around in endless debate on how to solve the problem.

Everyone seems to agree there is a dire need for adequate funding for transportation and broadband needs.

Yet the Republican-majority House and the DFL-majority Senate remain at loggerheads on a solution to either challenge.

How bad is it in transportation in Minnesota?

Leaders of both parties say that an additional $600 million to $700 million a year is needed to maintain current roads and bridges and to address improvement needs for safety and population growth areas, according to a Star Tribune report.

It gets worse.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation “is expected to experience a funding shortfall in 2018 … that will reduce ongoing state road and bridge funding by 45 percent,” MnDOT reported last week.

And it gets worse.

“In the next 10 years, nearly 40 percent of our roads will be past their useful life,” MnDOT’s release said.

How bad is it on broadband access in Minnesota?

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force 2015 report said Minnesota needs to increase its broadband speed goal and likely needs $200 million to meet the objective.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $100 million investment on broadband, while the House Republicans have proposed $35 million.

Both are far short of the need.

The rural shortfall on broadband is hindering and harming Minnesota schools, colleges, residents and businesses. It is also limiting economic development through out rural Minnesota.

The time has come for Minnesota legislators — Democrat and Republican — to put up or shut up in transportation and broadband. These two infrastructure sectors are vital to the education and commerce of this state, and it is critical to many businesses, especially agriculture.

Frankly, Minnesota has already had one tragedy and multiple deaths with the collapse of the I-35W bridge due to structure failure.

How many more Minnesotans must die before the Legislature finds a transportation funding solution?

How many businesses must fail in rural Minnesota or move because they do not have adequate broadband?

Minnesota needs solutions on transportation and broadband, not more campaign rhetoric.

Frankly, when it comes to transportation and broadband needs, legislators have kicked the can past the next election long enough.

The time has come to compromise on some solutions that benefit all Minnesotans and provide some sustainable

funding for transportation and broadband.

To borrow a slang term, it is time for the Legislature to “get’er done.”

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