Second Harvest Heartland seeks $18 million state investment

March 8, 2018 By: Marcus Schmit

One of Second Harvest Heartland’s major legislative priorities during the 2017 state legislative session was securing $18 million in general obligation bonding to support the renovation of our new distribution center in Brooklyn Park. While we fell short of the finish line last year, we’re excited about our partnership with the City of Brooklyn Park and optimistic about our chances in 2018.

Last fall the House Capital Investment Committee along with Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans toured our Maplewood facility to see firsthand the challenges of our current space. We appreciated the opportunity to share our story with key legislators and look forward to the upcoming legislative session. State Representative Dario Anselmo (R – Edina) and State Senator Paul Anderson (R – Plymouth) have introduced legislation in St. Paul to help secure crucial state funding for the bonding project. Here is a rundown on the state’s bonding process…

1. What is bonding?

The State of Minnesota issues general obligation bonds to help finance the purchase of land; construction or repairs of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, parks and trails; or other infrastructure-type projects supported by state agencies and local units of government. The state legislature and Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) oversee the process of reviewing project requests, awarding funding and ensuring that public dollars are utilized appropriately. Traditionally, this process occurs in “even” years while legislators and the Governor work to craft a two-year state budget in “odd” years.

2. Why is Second Harvest Heartland asking for it?

Second Harvest Heartland’s current distribution facility is at maximum capacity. We simply do not have the space to meet the demand of our food shelf and meal program partners to feed hungry Minnesotans. That’s why we partnered with the City of Brooklyn Park to seek the state’s investment in a new facility. This facility will allow us to move and store more food more effectively to our metro, suburban and rural partners across the state.

3. What other kinds of organizations get bonding?

Historically, only state agencies and local units of government (e.g. counties and cities) qualify for bonding dollars. Nonprofit organizations such as Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis have worked with these entities in recent years to utilize bonding to support projects that have benefit beyond their respective organizations.

4. What makes a bonding request successful?

Good question! Reflecting on the recent success of other public-nonprofit projects, it’s clear that success at the state legislature requires a strong public partner and a strong case that those public dollars will produce a positive regional impact. We’re confident about the story we have to tell – too many Minnesotans, including one in six kids, are going hungry and investing in Second Harvest Heartland will have a significant return. $18 million of state bonding dollars, combined with the donations of generous Minnesotans, will create over 100 jobs and generate an additional 68 million meals that will keep people healthy, working and contributing to our economy. It has huge statewide impact!

5. Who do we ask and when?

Second Harvest Heartland and the City of Brooklyn Park submitted our request to MMB in June. MMB’s role is to ensure that this project is eligible for bonding dollars. We’re preparing for the upcoming state legislative session, when the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees craft a bonding bill. Ultimately, legislators and the Governor decide our fate.

6. What stage are we at?

We’re almost to the finish line! Legislators on the House Capital Investment Committee recently toured Second Harvest Heartland’s Maplewood facility last fall to see our capacity challenges and learn more about our partnerships across the state. It was an exciting day around here. We anticipate a hearing on our bill, which is authored by State Representative Dario Anselmo (R – Edina) and State Senator Paul Anderson (R – Plymouth) in the coming weeks.

7. When will we know if we get it?

The legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn May 21, 2018. If recent years are any indication, we won’t know the result of our effort until midnight on May 20, and I’m not going to count these chickens until they’re hatched!

8. How can I help?

Everyone is an advocate! If you’re willing to help, please contact your state legislators and let them know why this investment of public dollars is important to you.

Contact the Governor’s office, too. And come on up to the Capitol. Nothing is more effective with our elected officials than some good old face-to-face conversation. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions at mschmit@2harvest.org.


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