The governor's plan to pay for public projects around the state – will it go anywhere?

Here is Gov. Mark Dayton's plan. It might end up going nowhere.
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A list of more than 240 public projects around the state is being touted by the governor as a way to create thousands of jobs and upgrade important infrastructure.

Whether everyone agrees, and all the projects actually happen ... that's far from a sure thing. And when lawmakers and the governor went over it this past year, it kinda fell apart and nothing got passed.

The proposal Gov. Mark Dayton rolled out Tuesday would be a $1.5 billion investment, with 35 percent of the projects getting done in greater Minnesota, and 30 percent in the Twin Cities area. The remaining 35 percent would have a statewide impact.

So what's in the proposal?

Well you can use this map to find projects that would be near you. There's also a list here, by county. Generally they're construction projects, investments in education buildings, help for parks or other natural spaces, health facilities, economics centers – things that, at least theoretically, help the state and its residents.

A few examples from Dayton's proposal:

  • $21 million to upgrade downtown Duluth's 80-year-old, coal-powered steam heating system.
  • $98,000 for Madelia – the town devastated by a fire in February – to rebuild critical infrastructure.
  • $10 million to upgrade ports in Duluth, Red Wing, Winona and St. Paul.
  • $35 million to provide aid to farmers facing a credit crunch because of low prices.
  • $125 for a DNR fish hatchery on the French River.
  • $70.3 million to upgrade St. Peter's Minnesota Security Hospital.
  • $12,420 for restrictive alternatives to the beleaguered Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
  • $3,000 for the Polk County North Country Food Bank.

Again, the wish list is more than 240 items long. So if you're curious about specific projects near you, or addressing certain needs, check the links above.

Dayton says these investments would create 22,950 jobs across Minnesota.

So when will I see these new projects?

Well, you might not.

This is just a proposal. It's up to state senators and representatives to consider the governor's suggestions, then write and pass a bill that they think makes sense. So something that's exactly as Dayton wants it could get passed. Or a version that has some of Dayton's wish list, but minus some of the items, could get passed.

Or, it could be like 2016 when lawmakers couldn't agree on anything and the deadline passed with no bill approved, as the Pioneer Press wrote about here.

And as Session Daily notes, the top Republican in the House – Rep. Kurt Daudt – recently said he doesn't expect lawmakers to approve a bonding bill in 2017 either. (The site also says bonding bill are usually an even-number year thing – odd-number years mark the start of a new budget cycle, so setting the budget usually takes precedence.)

While public projects and jobs might sound good, there is a cost to it. It's a spending bill – so if your'e someone who is concerned about how much the government is spending, or think spending could be lessened, then this proposal (referred to as a "bonding bill," more on that below) might not sound great to you.

It's called a 'bonding bill'

Dayton's proposal is a bonding bill – which is a term you might see thrown around a lot. So what the heck is a bonding bill?

As MPR has previously explained, the state borrows money by issuing Minnesota State Bonds, and uses that money to pay for these public projects. So the state gets a loan essentially, and pays it back (usually at a relatively low interest rate) over time.

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