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Browns Valley aid coming

ST. PAUL - The western Minnesota community of Browns Valley is due $2 million to help it recover from March flooding.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday signed a bill giving Browns Valley money for public and private recovery.

Besides the $2 million, an education funding bill includes a provision keeping the local school district's funding at pre-flood levels, even if it loses students because families move away. And the governor sent Browns Valley $264,000 in April for help to fix streets, remove debris and other immediate needs.

However, provisions in a tax bill to boost Browns Valley's city aid are threatened because the governor says he expects to veto the bill. No special session is expected if he does veto it.

The bill Pawlenty signed Wednesday also makes the community eligible to receive flood recovery grants and allows the Minnesota Housing Authority to spend money to help replace damaged homes.

"Minnesotans stand together to support one another in times of disaster or tragedy," Pawlenty said. "When I visited Browns Valley, community leaders and residents asked for our help to rebuild and I'm pleased to sign this bill into law. These state funds will aid in their recovery, including efforts to prevent flooding in the future."

The $2 million originally was in a statewide public works bill, but Pawlenty vetoed that because he said it was too expensive.

Then lawmakers went through weeks of argument about the issue when Rogers and Warroad-area lawmakers asked for aid following tornadoes. Help for those communities eventually was put in other bills and the Browns Valley package sailed on its own.

About 150 structures were affected by the flood. Minnesota officials are investigating whether a private South Dakota dike contributed to the problem.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.