House passes bonding bill

The Minnesota House has passed a $496 million package of public construction projects.

Today’s vote of 99 – 32 sent the bonding bill on to the Senate.

Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, acknowledged that this bill was being overshadowed by the pending Vikings stadium debate.

“Right now I feel more like the pre-game show for Monday Night Football,” Howes said.

The measure includes $64 million for the University of Minnesota and $132 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. It includes $44 million to begin a restoration of the State Capitol building.

Lawmakers left out several local projects, including a St. Paul Saint ballpark and civic center expansions in Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud. But Howes explained that those projects, as well as others around the state, would be eligible for a new program under the Department of Employment and Economic Development. He said the bonding bill designates $50 million to that program.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, called the provision a “slush fund,” and a “blank check for the administration.” He tried unsuccessfully to redirect the money to local road projects.

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said he was especially pleased that the bonding bill includes $30 million for flood mitigation projects.

“Not only do these dollars save state and federal dollars many times over, but it helps protect people and properties in these flood prone areas,” Marquart said. “So, those are dollars well spent.”

Here’s a spreadsheet of what projects are in the bill.

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