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Gov. Walz proposes $276 million for affordable housing projects

Gov. Tim Walz Photo: KSTP/File
Gov. Tim Walz

Updated: January 09, 2020 04:18 PM

Gov. Tim Walz proposed Thursday that the state borrow $276 million to invest in safe and affordable housing projects across MInnesota.

The announcement at a south Minneapolis apartment building that was financed with state bonds was the first of four presentations that the Democratic governor has planned over the next week on his public works borrowing proposal for the 2020 legislative session.

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Walz told reporters his "Local Jobs and Projects Plan" will total around $2 billion. The plan focuses on several areas from public safety to increasing access to safe drinking water.

Borrowing packages known as bonding bills are usually the top items on the legislature's agenda in even-numbered years. Democrats who control the House are expected to offer a bigger plan in the coming weeks, while Republicans who hold a majority in the Senate are expected to offer a smaller proposal. The final compromises over which projects make it into these bills are usually the subject of intense negotiations late in the session.

Walz, Flanagan launch initiative to fight homelessness in Minnesota

The affordable housing component of the governor's plan includes $200 million in housing infrastructure bonds that would be awarded to developers statewide through a competitive process. It also includes $60 million for rehabilitating public housing. Affordable housing has been one of his main priorities over the past year and this investment would cover everything from family housing to senior housing. Walz says the goal is to make sure all Minnesotans can afford to live in the communities they call home.

Another $4.2 million would then be used to improve physical and electronic security at veterans hoomes in Hastings, Fergues Falls, Silve Bay and Luverne, according to the plan, and $10.7 million would be used for department-wide asset preservation to maintain veterans homes across the state. An additional $1.2 million would be used for predesign to eliminate the centralized power plant at the Cambridge campus and switch to municipal utilities, the governor's office said. No other specifics for the plan were provided.

"The plan will include more local projects than any bonding proposal ever has because we did things differently," Walz said. "We got more input. We had more folks that understood this is what mattered to them. Over the last two months, we have visited dozens of potential projects."

Walz plans to announce details of his water quality and infrastructure plan on Friday, his higher education proposal on Monday, and his public safety and quality of life package on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Ashley Zilka

Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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