Dayton Pushes to Borrow $1.5 Billion for Public Construction Projects

January 16, 2018 06:26 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing to borrow $1.5 billion for a vast list of public construction projects.

The Democratic governor released his so-called bonding bill Tuesday. It puts a heavy emphasis on upkeep at public colleges and universities, expanding affordable housing options improving water infrastructure across Minnesota.


His proposal also would fund iconic local projects like $4 million in renovations to Duluth's Glensheen Mansion and $13 million to repair the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. He says the time is ripe to invest heavily in public construction.

Do you think Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to spend $1.5 billion on construction projects across the state is too much money or not enough? You can let the governor and the chairs of the House and Senate Capital Investment Committees know your views by sending a video clip or email below.

 It sets the stage for a marquee item of the 2018 legislative session when lawmakers return Feb. 20. But Dayton's proposal will likely face pushback from Republicans who control the Legislature.

The administration had previously budgeted for an $800 million borrowing package.

Governor Dayton was ill on Tuesday and couldn't attend a news conference, but Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said the governor wanted a "robust" bonding bill proposal. He also admitted it might have to be adjusted depending on the next budget forecast due in February.

"We understand that we'll have to take a look at the assets available in the February forecast and we hope we'll have enough resources available," Frans told reporters Tuesday.

View the public works proposal here.

The Dayton administration's economic forecast assumed the Legislature would pass an $800 million bill this year. But the final size of the package is a political decision between Democrats who push for more projects and Republicans who will likely seek to limit the state's borrowing.

RELATED: Supreme Court Rules in Dayton's Favor in Veto of Legislature's Budget

A statement from Republican House Capital Investment Committee chair Dean Urdahl Tuesday suggested the proposal could face tough sledding in the Legislature.

"It will be an uphill battle to secure legislative support for a proposal that spends $600 million more than we have planned for in the budget forecast," the statement read.

"Last session, the Legislature passed a $1 billion, geographically balanced bonding bill which focused heavily on infrastructure and transportation needs. Any bill that takes shape this year will need to follow that same blueprint. By contrast, the governor's proposal fails to include any of the critical local infrastructure projects that are critical to any bonding bill's success. In addition, information from the state's February economic forecast needs to be factored into the equation, so let's allow those details to come into place before we get too far ahead of ourselves." 

Sen. David Senjem, (R) Rochester, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee said the governor's proposal would "bust the budget." He also says there needs to be more focus on transportation infrastructure.

But House DFL leader Melissa Hortman said the bill will create jobs in the state.

"We need to invest in Minnesota's roads, bridges, state assets, and historical landmarks," the statement read. "Importantly, the bonding bill will create more than 20,000 quality jobs throughout the state, helping Minnesota families to be more economically secure. 

"Given today's interest rates, it's important we pass a robust bonding bill this session. Inflation and Federal Reserve rate increases are on the horizon, so we will get more for Minnesotans by acting now." 


The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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