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Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday unveiled his $2.73 billion capital investment plan he says will address current maintenance needs across the state and prepare Minnesota for the future. 

Walz's Local Jobs and Projects Plan is his administration's capital investment recommendations for the upcoming legislative session, and it includes $940 million in projects Walz says will help Minnesota prevent or adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts. 

The governor's proposal is significantly larger than the record $1.9 billion bonding bill the legislature approved in 2020. 

“In 2020, we passed the largest jobs bill in state history, investing in the projects that local communities told us matter most to them. Now with Minnesota’s strong economic outlook, we have an opportunity to make even more progress,” Walz said. “With a focus on projects like roads, bridges, fire stations, and veterans homes, our plan will repair and replace critical infrastructure and improve the lives of Minnesotans in every corner of the state.”

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have been touring the state for months to hear about projects, with state agencies and local governments submitting $5.5 billion in funding requests. Here's a breakdown of what's in the governor's plan:

  • $750 million for climate mitigation projects and $190 million to help Minnesota prevent and adapt to the changing climate (totaling $940 million)
  • $262 million in environmental stewardship projects, including $20 million in flood hazard mitigation grants to local governments, $13.8 million in statewide electric vehicle charging infrastructure, $60 million in capital improvements to bus rapid transit, more than $20 million for local government stormwater construction grants, and $8 million in dam safety repair and reconstruction.
  • More than $450 million for housing projects, including $250 million in housing infrastructure bonds and $70 million for veterans homes
  • More $560 million for new infrastructure projects, including $120 million for local bridge replacements; $90 million for local road improvement projects; and $200 million for local water infrastructure.
  • $260 million to repair and replace buildings in the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems across the state
  • $111 million for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to repair the buildings, roads, trails, public water accesses, bridges, and recreational facilities
  • $400 million to support "projects across the state that build thriving communities," including $100 million to focus on equity in bonding
  • $46.4 million in Capitol Complex security upgrades
  • $12 million for infrastructure improvements at Duluth's Spirit Mountain
  • $8 million to renovate the Minnesota Zoo's animal hospital and $12.6 million in asset preservation funding for the zoo to make repairs and improvements. 
  • $1 million for local community grants to upgrade ice arenas
  • $3 million to build a 50-meter outdoor pool in Cottage Grove
  • $890,000 for restoration design of the 115-year-old Batcher Block Opera House in Staples
  • $527,000 to build a warming house/community center in Aitkin
  • $6 million grant to the City of Wayzata to build a boardwalk and for ecological restoration along the shore of Lake Minnetonka

It remains to be seen what projects will be included in this year's bonding bill. And if past years are any indication, it'll take the entire legislative session or a special session to hammer out the details and get the bill passed. 

That's because the bill requires Republicans and Democrats to agree, as bonding bills take a three-fifths supermajority to pass in the House and the Senate. 

Republicans have already suggested Walz's proposal is way too big. Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Gove City, is the Republican lead on the House Investment Committee. He said $2.7 billion is "likely substantially more" than what GOPers would be willing to do, the Star Tribune reports.

While Rep. Fue Lee, DFL-Minneapolis, who chairs the House Capital Investment Committee, applauded the Democratic governor's proposal for its investments in housing and equity-focused projects. He said the committee will craft a "robust bonding bill this session that delivers for all Minnesotans."

Bonding bills use state-backed bonds and other sources to pay for capital projects. Walz's proposal includes $2 billion in general obligation bonds, $276 million in General Fund cash, and $250 million in appropriation bonds.

Lawmakers could also use some of the state's projected $7.7 billion budget surplus to pay for building projects. Minnesota is also expected to get $6.8 billion from the federal government via the federal infrastructure package Congress passed last November, which lawmakers could leverage to fund projects.

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