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Tight budget will limit aid for projects

ST. PAUL Park supporters, corrections officials and economic development proponents from across Minnesota made their cases Tuesday for a taste of state aid.

ST. PAUL Park supporters, corrections officials and economic development proponents from across Minnesota made their cases Tuesday for a taste of state aid.

Their requests might have been convincing but may not be enough to warrant funding this year.

The House Capital Investment Division, which decides which public works projects to fund with state-borrowed dollars, heard a series of requests, even though funding for many of the projects could be hard to find.

Rep. Alice Hausman, who leads the bonding committee, said her budget is so tight many projects will have to wait until 2008. Still, the St. Paul DFLer said it makes sense to at least hear testimony on the projects this year.

State park support


Dozens of Greenleaf Lake State Park supporters showed up for the committee hearing as Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, sought $1 million to buy private land within the park.

While seeking new funds, Urdahl and others complained that $500,000 earmarked for the park project by the 2005 Legislature hasn't been used by a state agency.

Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids, wants the state to approve a $1.6 million bonding request to pay for a visitor station upgrade, white cedar forest restoration and other improvements.

Emergency training centerSailer had another bonding proposal. She and Gonvick city officials asked the committee to fund a smaller request $50,000 for pre-design of a regional emergency training center serving 26 northern Minnesota counties. A centrally located center on land donated by the city of Gonvick would serve dozens of law enforcement agencies and emergency crews that often struggle to get training because of their remote location, Sailer said.

Minnesota Steel projectRep. Tom Anzelc brought the largest bonding request to the committee Tuesday, seeking $30 million in state-borrowed aid for a Minnesota Steel project in Nashwauk.

Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, said the Iron Range steel plant could employ 750 workers. The bonding request would help cover rail, road, gas and electricity service costs associated with the project.

Vocational trainingOtis Zanders went before the bonding committee seeking $6 million in funding for a new vocational training building at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing, where he is superintendent. Zanders told lawmakers the facility's male residents offenders who average 17 years of age need more training to prepare them for jobs upon their release.

The correctional facility wants to expand the vocational program to possibly include drywall, roofing, wiring and flooring instruction. That would require the new building. Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, authored the correctional facility request in the House.


Vet home expansionMcNamara also asked the committee Tuesday for $7 million to build a 30-unit expansion at the Minnesota Veterans Home facility in Hastings. The new wing would offer small apartments for veterans with disabilities.

Wente works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.

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