Given recent events that have befallen the state – the 35W bridge collapse and outstate flooding – it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that funding for the next year is going to be tight. Really tight.
“Obviously there is going to be big pressure for funding,” said Michael McDonough, LCCMR manager of research and planning.
This pressure is going to make the LCCMR’s winnowing of RFPs an even more arduous process. The committee’s deadline for RFPs was September 4, and they received upwards of 120 proposals — last year they received 80 proposals. (McDonough attributes part of this growth to an extended submission period, which added an additional 30 days this year over last year for organizations to turn in their proposals.)
On top of that, the proposals received requested a total of approximately $100 million, and the committee only has $22.8 million allocated for its recommendations to the legislature. And those RFPs which are eligible for regional grants will be quickly dismissed by the committee and LCCMR staff. Upholding its directive to organizations that are eligible for such grants, the LCCMR will request that those groups seek regional funding and cut those first from its pile of RFPs that it will submit to the committee at its next meeting on September 25.
At that meeting, the LCCMR will begin to determine which RFPs will be invited for in for presentations, slated to begin sometime in October. The LCCMR also hopes to have the RFPs posted on its web site for the public to view by the end of this week. (The committee has also recently posted its Preliminary Six Year Plan.)
As the LCCMR moves into examining the proposals, it is expected that issues such as transparency and disclosure of any third-party contracts involved in the execution of the proposed plans will be a large part of the conversation. Rep. Jean Wagenius, co-vice chair, has been a vocal proponent of such measures, and it’s unlikely that she will step back on this matter in upcoming meetings. And given the ruckus that has developed over state funding issues, such as that surrounding the 35W bridge, these topics surrounding the details of funding allocations are sure to edge their way to center stage. It all promises for some lively discussion and debate.