Dayton highlights downtowns in $775 million bonding proposal

Gov. Mark Dayton has unveiled a wish list of public works construction projects that includes regional civic centers, a St. Paul ballpark and some money for southwest corridor light rail line.

The $775 million bonding bill proposal also includes improvements college campus buildings, as well as roads and bridges. Dayton argues that a large bonding bill help get thousands of inactive construction workers back on the job. His estimate is 21,700 jobs. The ballpark and civic center projects have been proposed and rejected before. But during a news conference today, Dayton said he still believes those projects are important.

“I believe in downtowns,” Dayton said. “I believe this is one of the essential roles that government plays in assisting the construction of projects that are going to produce an incredible economic return to the state, in the private sector, commercial activity the jobs it provides.”

Republican legislative leaders were quick to criticize the Dayton proposal. In a news release, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said it was fundamental difference in philosophy.

“The purpose and scope of the biennial bonding bill is to repair and build infrastructure, not to serve as stimulus or short-term jobs program,” Senjem said. “We must be prudent about placing debt burden upon our children and grandchildren.”

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, accused Dayton of following in the footsteps of Democrats in Washington with a misguided by stimulus package.

“In these economic times, a $775 million bonding bill that makes puts local spending projects on par with core infrastructure is unwise and ill-advised,” Zellers said.

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