Gov. Tim Walz has revealed his final borrowing proposal to fund major infrastructure projects across Minnesota.
Bonding this year will be one of the main points of discussion in the Minnesota Legislature, with Gov. Walz proposing projects on Wednesday that require just over $2 billion in borrowing, plus $571 million of additional financing.
The governor's priorities this year center on public safety, affordable housing, water infrastructure, and higher education.
Among the projects proposed is $30 million to build a new State Emergency Operations Center and Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office.
While quite a mouthful, Gov. Walz says this would help coordinate the support of state and local governments during disasters and emergencies, as well as provide a continuity of government facility for leaders during a crisis.
Elsewhere there are plans to replace aging law enforcement facilities in Crystal and Virginia, as well as just over $18 million to remodel 63,000 square feet of space at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility in St. Peter.
For transportation, Gov. Walz is proposing $112 million for a statewide local bridge rehabilitation program to address some of the 9,500 deficient bridges across the state, as well as a $100 million pot for local road improvements.
A further $110 million is earmarked to build grade separations at railroad crossings – such as bridges and underpasses – to improve traffic flow and public safety.
"As Governor, my top priority is keeping the people of Minnesota safe,” said Governor Walz. "Public safety facilities across Minnesota – from the National Guard Readiness Centers to local police and fire stations – are in desperate need of 21st century upgrades.
"This proposal will make sure that our emergency services, as well as aging roads and bridges, are repaired and upgraded so Minnesotans can have peace of mind in their day-to-day lives."
Gov. Walz's plan also sets aside $55 million for the design work and land acquisition involved in creating busways in the Twin Cities, overseen by the Metropolitan Council.
Money for Minnesota attractions
There is money available for some of Minnesota's attractions too, including the Minnesota Zoo, where Gov. Walz wants to spend $11 million repurposing the now defunct monorail track into an elevated walkway.
A further $5 million is proposed to renovate the zoo's animal hospital.
Among the smaller projects proposed is a $291,000 plan to create a Regional Sports Center in St. Paul, which would comprise a complex for field sports including soccer, rugby and lacrosse.
The plan also includes $70 million to address the almost $150 million in deferred maintenance at Minnesota DNR buildings, roads and facilities.
Another $10 million is earmarked to improve disabled access at William O'Brien and Fort Snelling State Parks, and $5.8 million to build campgrounds at Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park.