Bonding bill fails in state Senate

Updated at 3:15 p.m. with Bakk and Daudt comments.

The Minnesota Senate failed to passed a $1.5 billion bonding bill Thursday when supporters fell one vote short of the required three-fifths majority.

The vote was 40-26. Senate Democrats needed the help of two Republicans, but only one GOP lawmaker voted for the bill.

The proposed borrowing package included more than 300 public construction projects, including college campus upgrades and water facility improvements.

During the floor debate, Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said the bill was too big to pass. Senjem said cutting the bill by half would be a good compromise.

“How can we get out of this session with a bonding bill?” he asked.  “I think we all want that. But I think we all probably, or at least most of us on our side realize that $1.8 billion probably is not where we need to be. We need to kind of soften this up a little bit, skinny it up, make it work for I think everybody.”

The Senate bonding chair stressed the importance of all the projects included in the bill.

Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said Republican legislators requested many of the projects.

“I really had hoped that by putting a bill together with a lot of input from both sides we could have gotten the state moving forward instead of sliding backwards,” Stumpf said.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he was disappointed with the vote. Bakk also warned that there might not be a bonding bill this session.

“For those Republicans that want to have a do-nothing session, they just don’t believe that we should spend any money, they may get their way,” Bakk said.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a $1.4 billion bonding bill.

House Republicans have a bonding target of just $600 million. They have not yet released a bonding bill.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, said Senate Republicans “stood up for taxpayers” by rejecting an “excessive” DFL bonding bill.

Daudt told reporters that the proposed Senate GOP bonding compromise of $992 million was a “reasonably sized bill.”

“Let’s talk about what’s included it, but I’m open,” Daudt said. “We’re not drawing lines in the sand today.”

  • wjc

    As much as I agree with the DFL generally in this matter, I’m not sure what the point of trying to pass this in the Senate when there hasn’t been a general agreement yet. There is time for this kind of thing later, if the GOP doesn’t produce a bill. If the House GOP ever comes up with an actual $600 million bill, and tries to pass that, it will fail too. At least 8 DFL votes would be required in the House. Right now, this is all for show.

  • wjc

    Everybody knows that the compromise size of this bill will be $900 million – $1.1 billion depending on the specific projects being included. If the GOP would actually produce a bill, and the DFL would avoid this kind of posturing, maybe we could get somewhere.