Bonding funds could grow
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators passed the largest of three public works bills Wednesday, but there is a desire for more. Moments after senators voted 56-9 to fund $306 million in public works projects, the committee chairman in charge of picking p...
ST. PAUL - Minnesota senators passed the largest of three public works bills Wednesday, but there is a desire for more.
Moments after senators voted 56-9 to fund $306 million in public works projects, the committee chairman in charge of picking projects to fund said he expects to spend even more.
The House on Tuesday night approved $255 million in public works projects, while Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked for $71 million.
The Senate bill would spend $135 million from a $1 billion state budget surplus. Another $170 million would be funded by the state selling bonds.
Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, said he thinks some of the $629 million senators want to put into the state budget reserve fund will end up in his public works bill.
Legislators normally pass major bonding bills in even-numbered years - each of the last two were about $1 billion - and smaller ones in odd-numbered years when their main job is adopting a two-year budget.
As with most bonding bills, colleges and universities get some of the biggest spending.
The University of Minnesota would get $36.4 million and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would receive $33.8 million, in a large part for maintenance and repair on campuses statewide.
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said the governor might veto items he does not want to fund.
Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, complained that senators could not find $29 million to begin preserving the state Capitol building.
Langseth said it did not make sense to put money for the Capitol project in the bill since the House and governor don't support the funding. However, he said he would support the spending if it comes up before lawmakers adjourn for the year in less than two months.
Among items in the Senate bill:
-- $5 million to loan Red Lake schools renovation money ($30 million in House).
-- $700,000 for Green Leaf State Park (no specific amount in House bill).
-- $600,000 for digital Red River basin mapping (same as House).
-- $200,000 for Stillwater flood control projects (same as House).
-- $10 million for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program ($8 million in House).
-- $2 million for Browns Valley flood control (House includes $2.1 million for Browns Valley and Roseau).
-- $500,000 to develop Red Wing port (also in the House).
-- $6 million for Oak Park Heights prison improvements (same as House).
-- $37 million for Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (House and Pawlenty provide $39.7 million).
-- $30 million for Itasca County infrastructure for new steel mill (House provides $20 million).
-- $2 million to buy high school site near Bemidji State University (same as House).
-- $1.8 million to buy land near Fond du Lac college (same as House).
-- $3 million for Lake Superior harbor improvements (amount not specified in House).