The House Capital Investment Committee chair said Tuesday the fate of a House bonding bill is closely linked to the outcome of lawmakers’ negotiations over comprehensive tax and transportation legislation.
Even-year legislative sessions are generally regarded as “bonding years,” when lawmakers pass a large-scale borrowing package that helps fund infrastructure projects across the state. Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $1.4 billion capital investment package — it would be the largest in state history — and Senate DFLers said they would like to see a similarly sized bill, although no proposal has been unveiled.
House Republicans have set their sights on a much smaller bill, with leadership earlier this month releasing budget targets that call for a $600 million bill. With bonding bills requiring a two-thirds supermajority to pass, a bill of that size may have trouble acquiring the number of votes it needs.
Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), chair of the committee, said in an interview there’s not yet any House proposal because the shape of that bill will be heavily influenced by the Legislature’s two biggest unresolved issues.
“I still see the three major bills on the stage as being related,” Torkelson said, echoing previous comments by other ranking House Republicans that the issues are heavily linked. What happens with tax and transportation packages — two issues that House and Senate lawmakers have shown little public progress toward striking an agreement — will have a big impact on what the House’s bonding bill looks like, he said.
“To try to deny that,” Torkelson said, “I don’t think is appropriate.”
With less than four weeks left before the 2016 session’s May 23 constitutional adjournment date, the committee isn’t waiting for the path forward to clear before building a bill. Lawmakers on the bonding committee heard dozens of bills that laid out the capital investment needs of state agencies and local governments across the state.
Torkelson said lawmakers are evaluating and prioritizing projects now “so we are ready when the time comes.”
How the process plays out may not be evident, Torkelson said, but his aim remains clear.
“I have every intention of seeing a bonding bill gets passed this year,” he said
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