Pawlenty: Flood Projects Overlooked

Lawmakers shortchanged flood-prevention projects in their public works spending bills, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said.

The governor, who met recently with the House and Senate public works committee leaders, said a negotiated spending package for state construction projects must “increase the emphasis on flood prevention and flood mitigation measures.”

The House on Monday passed its public works package, known as a bonding bill because projects are paid for with state-borrowed funds. The roughly $200 million bill includes about $12 million for flood-mitigation projects, less than half what senators proposed in a larger bill they passed earlier this session.

Both bills spend too much overall and not enough on flood-related projects in northwestern Minnesota and in other areas of the state, the Republican governor told reporters Wednesday.

Pawlenty said his office has a list of flood-mitigation projects around the state that will be ready to start within the next 18 months.

“They’re shovel ready, they provide jobs, but more importantly it’s a public safety issue and that should be a key priority," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty did not say how much should be spent on flood-mitigation projects.

Debate over flood-prevention funding comes as northwestern Minnesota communities fight Red River flooding.