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Senate passes $1.9 billion bonding bill, will be sent to Gov. Walz for signing

The House and Senate came to an agreement during the fifth special session.

It's taken five special sessions but the Minnesota Legislature as finally agreed on a public investment bonding bill.

The Minnesota Senate voted overwhelmingly – 64-3 – to approve the bill agreed by the House on Wednesday that will provide $1.36 billion in borrowing for public infrastructure projects, and $600 million in other spending and tax relief.

The bonding bill has been used as a pawn in negotiations between Republicans, Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz over the past five special sessions, with Republicans having previously expressed dissatisfaction that Gov. Walz would not relinquish his COVID-19 emergency powers.

But an agreement was reached just weeks before the 2020 Elections, with the breakthrough coming in the House Wednesday evening, when 25 GOPers voted in favor of the bill, giving the DFL-led House the three-fifths majority needed to pass the bill.

The bill allocates money for projects including $52 million for the 3rd Street Kellogg Bridge reconstruction, and $55 million to the Metropolitan Council to support bus rapid transit. Money from the bill will also go toward testing untested rape kits across the state and providing a temporary pay raise for personal care assistants.

The bill also includes tax relief for farmers and small businesses, allowing them to deduct certain property costs in the first year, rather than over five years.

Gov. Walz will sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

"This bonding bill is a smart investment that will create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver improvements to local projects throughout Minnesota, and make our state a better place to live. It's been a long journey," he said.

"By finally coming together and working across the aisle, Minnesota proved once again that if Washington won't lead—we will."

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The borrowing plan, approved by a 45-22 vote Monday night, would use $496 million for public works projects, higher education and state Capitol renovations. It also calls to spend an additional $50 million on unnamed Department of Employment and Economic Development projects. House lawmakers approved a similar measure early Monday afternoon. They can either accept the Senate version or the differences will be negotiated in a conference committee.