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Going to the governor

Published (3/11/2010)
By Mike Cook
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House and Senate capital investment chairs, Rep. Alice Hausman and Sen. Keith Langseth confer during a March 4 meeting of the capital investment working group. (Photo by Tom Olmscheid)The latest nearly billion-dollar bonding bill was approved 89-44 by the House and 49-17 by the Senate March 11, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

The revamped capital investment bill provides more money for the sex offender treatment facility in Moose Lake; but it also, in total, creeps closer to $1 billion in general obligation bonds.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants $89 million for the sex offender project; the bill calls for $47.5 million. That is still an $11.5 million increase from a March 4 working group offer.

The bill contains language for administration, corrections and human services commissioners to study the potential for using existing vacant or underused state facilities, including regional treatment centers, for the sex offender treatment program or for other programs or services administered by the Department of Human Services.

The bill also includes gubernatorial priorities of $10.03 million for security upgrades at the Oak Park Heights State Prison and $9.45 million to expand the Minneapolis Veterans Home. It also lifts a price cap for a land purchase for a new Lake Vermilion State Park.

“The bill we’ve written still reflects the core priorities we began with, including a very strong commitment to higher education, to transportation, and to conservation and clean water infrastructure,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), who sponsors HF2700*/ SF2360 with Sen. Keith Langseth (DFL-Glyndon).

This bill price tag is $999.66 million in general obligation bonding. The first conference committee report sought almost $999.92 million. Before the House and Senate passed that bill Feb. 22, Pawlenty warned them he would veto the bill in its entirety.

While in Moorhead March 10, Pawlenty, who has repeatedly said he does not want a package larger than $725 million, indicated that he would line-item veto this bill to a size he finds acceptable.

“While we don’t know the final outcome, we’ll be pleased,” said Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker). “We’ve got a fine bill here.”

Hausman reiterated the urgency for this bill, noting lower construction costs, lower interest rates and the estimated 20,000 jobs to be created. “By getting projects in the pipeline now, we can take advantage of low interest rates and competitive bids, and get thousands of workers back on the job by this spring’s construction season.”

Opponents continued to question priorities, including passing this bill before fixing the budget shortfall.

“This is about misplaced priorities,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City).

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