The Legislature may go two straight years without a bonding bill.
That was the warning from Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), just before the House voted down an $800 million proposal.
The vote was 70-62 for a delete-all amendment to HF575; however, by law, capital investment bills need three-fifths approval of each body — 81 votes in the House — to pass. Republicans hold a 77-57 seat advantage.
“Why do we bond? To meet our responsibility to address the infrastructure needs of our state,” said Urdahl, the bill sponsor and chair of the House Capital Investment Committee. “This bill primarily addresses those needs.”
MORE See the spreadsheet
Odd-numbered years are traditionally focused on establishing a state budget with a smaller bonding bill; even-numbered years are often centered on a large capital investment plan. However, a chaotic finish to the 2016 session resulted in no bill. Capital investment was also part of the unsuccessful special session discussion over the final seven months of 2016.
“This is a year where we are making up for a bill that we kind of did last year, but not quite,” Urdahl said, noting the only new projects in this year’s bill are for emergency needs.
Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) was the lone DFL member to speak against the bill.
“We have not yet included all that was in last year’s bill, so the backlog is growing,” she said. “… It needs a bit more work.” For example, she said about one-third of capital investment bills traditionally go for higher education, whereas this bill is at about 10 percent. She also noted the bill is not regionally balanced.
Hausman suggests members from both parties in both bodies and governor’s staff put together a final product before session ends. “We look forward to further work to have a wonderful package that at the end of the day is good for the state,” she said.
Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a $1.5 billion proposal in January. Sponsored by Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), SF210, includes $973 million in general-obligation bonding and $201.9 million in General Fund spending.
“Do you really think that if we send them a bill, it’ll come back smaller?” Urdahl asked members. “Do you really think projects important to you can’t be added?”
Urdahl cannot guarantee another bonding bill would be put forth before members must constitutionally adjourn by midnight Monday.
“It is a little bit disconcerting to me to realize that there are members here who are prepared to vote against projects that are vital to their district,” he said. “I implore you to consider what you’re doing and why. We can’t say that we voted ‘no’ on local projects because $800 million isn’t enough money.”
Among the more high-profile projects in the House bill are:
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton to use mediation to resolve a funding dispute. In an opinion issued Friday, the court also ruled that Dayton’s use of the line-item veto to strip biennial funding for the Legislature was constitutional.
A Ramsey County judge on Wednesday ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of legislative funding violated the state’s constitution.
House and Senate leadership OK a resolution to seek outside legal representation in an effort to restore funding for the Legislature that Gov. Mark Dayton line-item vetoed earlier this week.
Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers on conference committees must sort through competing bills before finalizing a product to send to the governor.
The budget process explained — and why it matters
$45 billion plan is about a 10 percent increase over current biennium
Governor urges lawmakers to pass a big capital investment bill during budget-setting year; House Speaker has expressed doubt over bonding this session
It was a day of selfies, swearings-in and standing ovations as the House opened the 2017-18 biennial session Tuesday.