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Working group presents offer

Published (3/4/2010)
By Mike Cook
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A second capital investment bill could be on the House and Senate floors within a week; and maybe this one will make it to the governor’s desk.

A capital investment working group approved an offer March 4 that brings the bill total down slightly from before and contains the six core projects identified by the governor. However, the overall cost of the bill does not meet his desired amount.

The working group report calls for nearly $986.43 million in general obligation bonding, a decrease of about $13.5 million from the amount in HF2700*/ SF2360.

Among contents of the offer, which must first be approved by a reconstituted conference committee, includes is $9.45 million for renovations at the Minneapolis Veterans Home and language to lift a cap on the purchase price of land for the proposed Lake Vermilion State Park.

Additionally there is $36 million to expand the sex offender treatment facility at Moose Lake. Gov. Tim Pawlenty requested $89.07 million, and conferees were told $61 million would provide the needed infrastructure. The original conference committee report had no money for the expansion.

Included in the cuts proffered by the working group are $44 million from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system for projects that aren’t shovel ready, and a combined $10 million from civic center projects in Mankato, Rochester and St. Cloud.

“None of this gives us much pleasure,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul). She sponsors the bill with Sen. Keith Langseth (DFL-Glyndon).

Approved by the House and Senate Feb. 22, the governor said he would have vetoed the first bill because of its size and priorities. Instead, legislative leaders kept the bill in the Senate, rather than sending it to the governor’s desk.

Pawlenty repeatedly warned legislators he would not sign a bill larger than $725 million, and it had to contain some of his core projects.

Supporters continue to say now is the time for a larger bill because construction bids are coming in low, interest rates are favorable and it would create more than 20,000 new jobs.

Will Pawlenty sign it?

“It’s hard to know what to expect from the governor,” Langseth said.

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