Minnesota House passes $1.9B infrastructure improvement package

Lawmakers in the Minnesota House of Representatives passed nearly $2 billion worth of infrastructure spending on Monday.

It would be the first bonding bill in two years if it makes it to the governor’s desk.

Typically, bonding bills come later in the legislative session, but lawmakers want to make sure this gets done after it failed to pass last year.

RELATED: Bonding bill to be priority for 2023 legislative session

Gov. Tim Walz initially proposed $3.3 billion for infrastructure spending in late January but the current package is smaller, coming in at $1.9 billion.

The bill contains nearly $250 million that would go toward road and bridge improvements.

Another $300 million would help state colleges and universities — with more than $132 million going to the University of Minnesota.

About $180 million would be allocated toward natural resources and around $140 million would be set aside for employment and economic development.

The spending packages would also include some funds from the state’s budget surplus to help communities across the state.

With Democrats narrowly controlling both legislative chambers, the borrowing measure is seen as the main tool Republicans have to leverage any control during this session, as a 60% majority is required for bonding bills.

The package that passed on Monday was split into a $1.5 billion bonding bill, which passed 91-43, and a $393 million cash bill, which passed 98-36.

Even though the House passed the bonding bill, there’s still an uphill climb in the Senate.

“We just want them to know that bill can be dead on arrival because we believe that we need to see some tax cuts tied to that,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said.

“It’s a waste of time for the House to take this up today and send it on over to the Senate because it will be dead on arrival without any tax cuts,” Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, added.

However, House DFL leaders accused Republicans of playing political games on bonding bills.

“Bonding bills are politically neutral. We really want to get this bill done for the people of Minnesota,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said. “When we bring a bill to the floor, what we’re putting out there is something we believe should be law.”

Hortman also said Democrats could seek an all-cash bill that would only require a simple majority.

“I refer to it as the ‘with or without you’ bill,” Hortman added. “We would really like to do that with Republicans but at the end of the day, it’s not acceptable to Minnesotans to go this long without another bonding bill.”

To follow the progress of many other bills throughout the session, check out KSTP’s Legislative Tracker.