The state Senate's package of construction projects fell one vote short of passing - Bring Me The News

The state Senate's package of construction projects fell one vote short of passing

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Just three days after DFL leaders of the Minnesota Senate unveiled a $1.5 billion list of building projects they want the state to fund, it failed to pass.

The bill needed a yes vote from three-fifths of the senators and it fell one vote short of that, 40-26.

It would have paid for projects ranging from maintenance of buildings at state colleges to refurbishing water treatment plants to road construction. The state would borrow the money from investors by selling bonds (that's why they're often called "bonding" bills at the Capitol). But critics said the cost of the Senate bill was just too high.

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The GOP-led House has not yet proposed its own list of state-funded projects. But House Speaker Kurt Daudt has said he'd like to keep the total to $600 million, which is less than half what the Senate proposed.

During the Senate debate Republican Dave Senjem of Rochester pitched a slimmed down package that included $900 million worth of projects, Forum News Service reports, but it was rejected.

Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, the author of the bill, told MPR News many of the projects in it were suggested by Republican senators and he had hoped the input from both sides of the aisle would allow it to pass.

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Now Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk fears there may not be a bonding bill at all during the legislative session, Forum News says, although House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he remains optimistic lawmakers will agree on one.

The Legislative session must end by May 23 under terms laid out in the state Constitution.

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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.

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Before taking up the stadium bill, the Minnesota House authorized half a billion dollars for state-funded construction projects. It includes money for repairs at the University of Minnesota and at state colleges and universities; roads, bridges, and transit; and a downpayment on renovations of the state Capitol building. A minor league ballpark for the St. Paul Saints is among the projects that did not make it into the bill.

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