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Minnesota Legislature

‘Bare bones’ bonding sees reductions (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Sonja Hegman
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After conference committee members spent weeks deciding what shovel- or paint-ready projects should be considered for this year’s capital investment law, Gov. Tim Pawlenty used his veto power to cut $85.16 million worth of projects from the $343.5 million proposal.

In an earlier letter to the conferees, Pawlenty laid out his concerns regarding the size and scope of the bill. He indicated an acceptable bill should focus on “maintaining existing buildings rather than constructing new ones; funding projects that leverage available federal matching dollars; and remaining fiscally responsible.”

Despite his disappointment with the size presented to him, Pawlenty said he was grateful for increases in the flood mitigation amount and included disaster assistance money for northwest Minnesota, Hugo and St. Charles. “These are important items that need to be funded this year,” he wrote. “While many of the vetoed projects are meritorious, they should be considered next year as part of the larger, regular bonding bill.”

“This money is going to go a long way to protect the Red River Valley from future flooding,” said Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth). “Those dollars will be saved many times over in reduced damages in the future.”

Law sponsors Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Keith Langseth (DFL-Glyndon) placed a high priority on higher education and gave asset preservation money to nearly every state agency.

“I will tell you that this is one of those bare bones, bread and butter bonding (laws) that takes care of the basics,” Hausman said. “It focuses on both paintbrush- and shovel-ready projects that can be undertaken immediately.”

The law will provide $54 million for flood mitigation. The rest of the money allocated in the law is toward asset preservation including $40 million and $25 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and University of Minnesota.

The law will also provide:

• $26 million to the Department of Transportation for intercity passenger rail projects;

• $22.6 million to the Metropolitan Council; and

• $2.1 million for a national solar rating and certification laboratory that will likely be built on the University of Minnesota-Morris campus;

The line-item vetoes include:

• $24 million for the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History;

• $13.3 million for North Hennepin Community College Center for Business and Technology;

• $11 million for a health and science center addition at Lake Superior Community and Technical College;

• $6.5 million for a Mankato civic center expansion;

• $5.78 million for the Red Lake school district;

• $5.75 million for a Metropolitan State University smart classroom center;

• $3 million for expansion of the St. Cloud Civic Center;

• $2 million for early childhood learning and child protection facilities; and

• $2 million for the Minnesota Shubert Performing Arts and Education Center in Minneapolis.

HF855*/SF781/CH93

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