MN Senate bonding chair nixes project tour

The uncertainty about operating funds for the Minnesota Legislature is having an impact on preparations for next year’s bonding bill.

Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, the chair of the Senate capital investment committee, cancelled a planned statewide tour of proposed public works projects due to his concerns about travel expenses. He said he doesn’t want to spend money while the court fight over Gov. Dayton’s vetoes of House and Senate funding remains unresolved.

“It just did not seem the appropriate thing to do, given the circumstances,” Senjem said.

Senjem said the cancellation of the tour will have an impact on the package of construction projects. He said committee members will have a lot less information about many proposals.

“The fact that we are not able to go out and see projects will make the whole process more difficult.”

Senjem said he thinks a bonding bill that’s in the neighborhood of $800 million is possible next session. But without being able to see first-hand what some local officials are proposing, he said committee members might have to focus on traditional bonding projects that they’re familiar with, such as roads, bridges and wastewater facilities.

“A bonding bill can go forward. But a lot of local projects out there which are unique and a little harder to visualize at the committee table may suffer,” Senjem said.

Members of the House Capital Investment Committee began touring the state in August to research the projects they’ll consider next year. They’re currently on the fourth leg of the tour.