House offers $800 bonding bill
The sponsor of the Minnesota House public works funding bill says it would help Minnesota continue its recovery from recession.
Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, today unveiled House Democrats' bill to fund construction projects such as those dealing with state-run colleges and universities, transportation, housing, economic development, sewer systems, flood prevention and the Capitol building.
"As Minnesota's economy continues to recover, this bill will go a long way to helping put people to work while improving and preserving our critical statewide infrastructure repairs," Hausman said. "Many of these projects are shovel- and paint-ready and can be started almost immediately."
Republicans were not ready to commit to the bill. At least eight of their votes will be needed to pass the Democrat-controlled House because the state constitution requires three-fifth of lawmakers to support it.
"Our caucus priority is not on a bonding bill at this point," Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said, adding that a state budget needs to pass first.
Dean said he would prefer that $109 million slated for state Capitol building renovation be presented in a separate bill rather than folded into a measure with more controversial issues.
The Hausman bill looks a lot like a public works funding plan, to be financed by the state selling bonds, that Gov. Mark Dayton released Monday.
Like the Dayton bill, the House plan's biggest project is $109 million to step up renovation of the 108-year-old Capitol. Another $94 million or $95 million would be needed next year to complete the multi-year project.
The Hausman bill also includes funds to:
-- Protect natural resources in places such as near Voyageurs National Park. Also, the Big Lake Sanitary District in Carlton County would be able to replace failing septic systems.
-- Prevent floods. Hausman calls for $20 million to be spent in several areas, including Moorhead and Oslo. That is $5 million more than Dayton wants.
-- Improve and add buildings at the University of Minnesota ($103.2 million) and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities ($89 million).
-- Complete Mankato, St. Cloud and Rochester civic centers.
"We have an obligation to preserve our important infrastructure in this state," Hausman said. "This bill is regionally balanced, will create jobs and help push us out of recession."
A committee vote on the House bill is set for Thursday. There is no indication when, or if, the Senate will produce its own bonding bill.