Times’ editorial on Tuesday wondered how governor could leave funding out of his bonding proposal

    After reading an editorial in the Times on Tuesday, Jan. 23 that questioned why Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton would not include $3 million to go toward the construction of a new North Country Food Bank facility in Crookston in his 2018 capital investment/bonding proposal, Matt Swenson, Dayton’s chief of staff for communications, tells the Times that the governor supports the NCFB’s efforts.

    Dayton’s initial bonding proposal totals $1.5 billion. Those who closely monitor the Minnesota Legislature figure the Republican-controlled House and Senate will propose capital investment bills significantly smaller than the DFL governor’s. When Dayton’s office released his initial bonding proposal last week, with it was a list of “local” projects submitted from across the state totaling $857 million but not included in his $1.5 billion proposal. On that list of projects described by Dayton’s office as “urgently needed” is $3 million for a new NCFB facility in Crookston. The state money would be added to $3 million being raised by NCFB in a capital campaign, and a new $6 million facility would be constructed on six acres of donated land on North Broadway, adjacent to Agassiz Townhomes that’s currently under construction.

     “Though not part of his public works proposal, Governor Dayton believes that these projects merit state investments, and looks forward to working with the Minnesota Legislature to include many of them in a final bill during the 2018 Legislative Session,” reads the narrative accompanying the list of $857 million in project requests not funded by Dayton at this point.

    Swenson noted Tuesday that more than $3 billion in bonding requests were submitted from counties and cities across Minnesota. With such a “huge backlog” in needs at higher education institutions and infrastructure statewide, Swenson said the governor is focused at this juncture on funding as many of those projects as possible.

    But Swenson said the governor has a history of supporting NCFB’s request for state funding to go toward a new facility, noting that Dayton has included the $3 million in his bonding proposals in two previous years. “He believes (the NCFB project), among many others has merit, and he looks forward to discussing these priorities in the session,” Swenson said.

    He added that then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, now a U.S. Senate appointee, also visited Crookston a couple years ago to tour North Country Food Bank and learn more from NCFB Executive Director Susie Novak about the need for a new facility in Crookston.