'Inadequate': House bonding committee unveils $975M proposal

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The Minnesota House's bonding committee rolled out its $975 million bonding proposal on Tuesday, which would go towards new construction and public works projects around the state. But the committee chair still called the bill "inadequate" for the state's needs, according to media reports.

House Capital Investment Committee Chair Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, unveiled the proposal, which will borrow $850 million and spend another $125 million in cash from the state's $1.2 billion budget surplus, the Pioneer Press reports.

Hausman's bill includes money for state college and university projects, expansion of the state trail system, help for communities to build sewer systems and aid to expand civic centers in many communities, the Bemidji Pioneer says.

Hausman said Tuesday the amount of funds are "inadequate" for the state's needs, according to the Star Tribune. Lawmakers received nearly $4 billion in requests for state agencies, but they had to turn down many projects, the Pioneer Press says.

“There’s one word to describe this bill,” Hausman said, according to MPR News. “I’ll say more positive things later, but I think the one defining word is inadequate. There are many areas in this bill that don’t reach the level that we need to. But it’s a work in progress.”

Passing the bonding bill is a top priority during this year's Legislature, but it'll be one of the toughest to pass because it requires a legislative "supermajority," the Star Tribune says.

Hausman said it'll be an uphill battle to get her bill passed, the Star Tribune said. At least eight Republicans must vote for the bonding bill to pass the House. Republicans want a bonding bill, too, Rep. Matt Dean said, but they haven't agreed to spend any of the surplus money on construction projects – they prefer to use the money for tax cuts, the Pioneer Press said.

Gov. Mark Dayton proposed $986 million in bonding projects in January, which includes many of the same priorities as the House Democrats. Senate Democrats haven't unveiled their proposal or a possible price tag – they're expected to later this month.

Here's a breakdown of where the money would go, according to the House's bonding committee proposal:

University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities: The two largest items on the bonding bill are for the U of M, which would get $175 million, and MnSCU, which would get $139 million. Hausman is asking for $56,000 to renovate the Tate Laboratory of Physics and $51 million for the Bell Museum and Planetarium, among other projects.

City projects: $4.5 million would go towards a revamp of Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall. St. Paul would get $14 million to expand and renovate the Children's Museum. Rochester would get $30 million for an expansion of the Mayo Civic Center. Mankato would get $14.5 million to expand its arena. St. Cloud would get $11.5 million to expand River's Edge Convention Center.

Transportation: $50 million would go to the Department of Transportation: $21.7 million toward local bridge replacement and $18.3 million for local road improvement.

Other projects: The Department of Natural Resources would get $62 million for park and trail projects, flood mitigation and land acquisition. $41 million would go towards the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. $147 million in grants would go to local governments for economic development projects.

The bill also includes what Hausman called a $20 million "place holder" to complete a multiyear, $272 million Capitol building renovation project, the Pioneer Press says. The Dayton administration has said the project needs $126 million this year.

For a complete list of the $850 million in house bonding projects, click here. For a list of the $125 million in cash projects, click here.

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