A pair of bonding packages that would spend more than $1 billion was passed in the early hours of Friday by the House.
The package put forth by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer) is comprised of two bills. HF2490, as amended, would have a general-obligation bonding impact of $846 million. The amended HF1068 would spend $198.7 million from the state’s budget surplus for additional infrastructure projects. (View the spreadsheet)
“There are a lot of good things, many of them a backlog from previous vetoes, at least 20,” Hausman said. “The bill is filled with lines that leverage other money: federal money, local money, private money.”
Almost $4 billion in bonding requests were submitted, but an agreement made last year by caucus leaders to only bond for $1 billion in the biennium resulted in this year’s final total. A $156.1 million law was passed last session. To fund more projects, a supplemental cash bill was proffered.
While the cash bill needed just a simple majority for passage, construction borrowing bills, like HF2490, need a 60 percent threshold to pass, meaning eight Republican votes were needed if all DFLers voted for the bill. The resolution of a key issue in one corner of the state likely helped those green votes come forward.
Included in the cash bill is just $22 million of the approximately $69 million needed to complete the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System that would help provide freshwater to parts of southwestern Minnesota where water supplies have dwindled.
“We are dry, but we have a plan,” said Rep. Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne). “There is such a dire need.”
The remainder is included in the tax agreement HF3167), with a new sales tax authority for Nobles and Rock counties and the city of Luverne. A current special sales tax in Worthington would be extended. Debt service on the bonds issued for the project would be funded two-thirds by the state and one-third by local communities.
“Bonding bills, by their nature, have many good things in them and some things that we may find objectionable,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) in support of HF2490. “In my mind the good, particularly the restoration of the Capitol … far outweighs anything that I might object to.”
Included in the general-obligation bonding bill is:
Cash bill components include:
Combined, the bills would provide $100 million for housing: permission for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to issue $80 million in appropriation bonds and $20 million for public housing rehabilitation from the general-obligation bill.
“It is a huge part of the bill and unprecedented,” Hausman said.
Not included in the House-approved bills is $51.5 million for a new James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, a project Hausman has requested for a number of years. However, the project is to be green-lighted with the university issuing bonds for the project and the state helping to pay off the debt.
Also missing is a provision to repeal a state building code requirement for all new larger homes to have fire sprinklers. Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to veto the entire bill had the repeal been included.