Park Board hopeful for more local aid in state budget

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is hoping the now DFL-led state House of Representatives will result in more funding for metro area parks and city priorities.

At a Legislative lobbying breakfast meeting on Jan. 25, Park Board commissioners presented the Minneapolis legislative delegation with their statehouse wish list, which includes increasing aid for local government, expanding funding for youth employment opportunities and recreation programs and increasing penalties for false 911 calls. The Park Board voted to approve its legislative agenda on Feb. 6.

The Park Board is seeking funding for multiple initiatives geared toward youth. They are requesting an increase from $200,000 to $800,000 for its Learn to Earn program for youth employment, just over $1 million for youth recreation programing and expanding universal day care for city residents, and $1.2 million toward its partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools to get implement full service community schools in the city.

“We can have a better child,” Commissioner Londel French (At Large) said at the breakfast. “We can have a better family.”

Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL- Minneapolis, who chairs the Transportation Committee said they will be prioritizing improving conditions for bikers and pedestrians in the transportation funding bull.

“I want to let you know you’re part of this process when we engage with the transportation funding bill,” Hornstein said.

The Park Board is also seeking state money to help complete the Grand Rounds missing link. While Commissioner Chris Meyer (District 1) said the route is still being determined between three potential paths, the Park Board is seeking $12 million for routes that have consensus now.

“This is a project the Park Board has been working toward for 100 years,” he said.

The Park Board is also joining with City Hall to request adding back cut state funding for the Minneapolis Employee Retirement Fund, which had $10 million in annual state funding cut in 2017, for which the MPRB share is $1.1 million.

The Park Board is also calling for divestment from the fossil fuel industry in employee pension funds throughout the state.