Mark Dayton unveiled a proposed $1.4 billion bonding bill to pay for infrastructure projects he says would create 39,000 jobs in Minnesota.
In a news release Friday morning the governor released details of what projects he wants approved in the upcoming legislative session – with reports noting he has put an emphasis on public safety.
Within it is the money Dayton said Thursday he wanted for upgrading Minnesota's aging water supply infrastructure and improving the quality of its lakes, rivers and streams. More than $200 million is earmarked for that initiative.
You can take a look at a snapshot of the projects by county here. Meanwhile we've picked out some of the big ones:
The Minnesota Sex Offender Program
Following a judge's ruling that the state's controversial sex offender treatment program is "unconstitutional," Dayton wants to spend $12.4 million building two lower-security facilities for some MSOP patients. Another $14.5 million would expand the St. Peter Community Preparation Services program that helps those nearing the end of their treatment.
Upgrade for Minnesota Security Hospital
Another controversial issue after several cases of staff at the mental health facility being attacked by inmates in recent years. Dayton wants to spend $70.3 million for a complete renovation of the hospital in St. Peter.
Investment for college buildings
The jobs bill proposes a $135 million designed to "ensure Minnesotans have access to high-quality education facilities," by replacing, upgrading or preserving Minnesota State College and University buildings, and University of Minnesota campus facilities.
Lake Mille Lacs walleye solution?
After a strict catch limit saw walleye season end early on the popular lake this past summer – causing uproar among lakeside businesses – Dayton wants to invest $3.5 million to "develop a fisheries management station on the lake" to address its declining population.
'Main Street Minnesota' investments
There are several projects designed to improve cities outside the Twin Cities metro area, including:
- $16 million investment in the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System project in southwest Minnesota, which would deliver "safe, reliable drinking water" from a new supply, the Missouri River, to 20,000 homes in the area around Worthington.
- $21 million to convert Duluth's steam energy system to a hot water system.
- Access between Red Wing's dock and downtown area would be improved with a $4 million investment that would also renovate the city's performing arts center.
- $3 million to build an airline terminal at International Falls-Koochiching County Airport.
- Creation of a new, larger facility for the Northern Dental Access Center in Bemidji – costing $6 million.
- $5 million to improve Customs and Border Patrol at Rochester International Airport.
State parks and cultural attractions
Some $34.4 million has been earmarked to create a new visitor center at Fort Snelling State Park, while $6.1 million would go toward renovation at Itasca State Park. Almost $50 million would go toward refurbishment at the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo.
Rail, port, bridge projects
Given the concern over the potential impact of oil trains derailing as they pass through Minnesota, Dayton wants to use $3.5 million to build an "oil train derailment and pipeline safety training venue" at Camp Ripley.
A further $42.9 million is earmarked to rebuild the "structurally deficient" Kellogg Boulevard Bridge in St. Paul, while just shy of $32 million would restore the "deteriorating" 10th Avenue bridge in Minneapolis.
There's also plans to "promote regional economic development" in St Paul, Winona, Red Wing and Duluth by making "navigation improvements and other enhancements" at their ports.
$90 million will go towards affordable housing projects, preserving federally subsidized rental housing and existing public housing, as well as money being set aside to buy and refurbish foreclosed buildings. A further $12 million will be used for the discussed expansion of the Dorothy Day Center for the homeless in St. Paul.
So, will Dayton get what he wants?
Given the GOP is in control of the Minnesota House and Dayton didn't even see eye-to-eye with DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk last year, the governor isn't confident he'll be getting everything he asks for.
Already he's been met with pushback from GOP lawmakers.
Last year he proposed a bonding bill of almost $850 million, but that had been whittled down to just $373 million after it was put before lawmakers in last year's legislative session, as reported by the Pioneer Press.
Nonetheless he is adamant the borrowing bill (which is funded by the issuing state bonds that pays interest to purchasers) would be of huge benefit to Minnesotans by creating jobs and providing long-awaited improvements to crucial infrastructure.
“My proposals would put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state," he said. "This bill will help deliver clean, affordable water to Minnesota communities, and prioritizes projects that have been delayed for many years.
"These projects are essential to improving our state’s infrastructure. I ask the Legislature to join me in working to pass a capital investment bill this session that will support our local economies and create jobs."