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House bonding bill tops $1 billion

Published (2/18/2010)
By Mike Cook
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A capital investment bill to help stimulate the state’s economy has gotten more expensive en route to a conference committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), HF2700 was amended to increase general obligation spending in the bill to nearly $1.09 billion, and passed 92-37 by the House Feb. 15 after more than four and a half hours of debate.

The Senate, which passed its $999.96 million general obligation bonding bill one week earlier, refused to concur with the House proposal. A conference committee is expected to work out the differences.

Hausman said the House bill focuses on higher education investments, transportation and transit improvements, and clean water infrastructure and environmental protection.

The major change made on the House floor is an additional $89.07 million to construct 400 more beds at the state’s sex offender facility at Moose Lake. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened to veto the entire bill if this project is not included. Technically offered by Hausman, she said Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker), the lead Republican on the House Capital Investment Finance Division, had also signed off on the amendment.

“What we want to show … is that we are respecting the governor’s role in these negotiations, and his strong desire for this project, and want to be clear that on a bipartisan basis we are bringing this issue into the conference committee,” Hausman said.

To offset the added cost, Rep. Steve Smith (R-Mound) unsuccessfully tried to remove funding for convention center projects in Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud, along with funds for Orchestra Hall and Ordway Center renovations, a cultural center in St. Paul and for design of the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji.

Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) unsuccessfully offered a motion to send the bill back to the House Finance Committee so the public could have a say in the matter.

House Majority Leader Tony Sertich (DFL-Chisholm) said the motion was a “tactic to delay passage and actually get jobs on the ground in the state.” He earlier indicated the bill would create 21,000 jobs.

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