Northern MN projects thrive in bonding bill deal

Minnesota politicsHouse and Senate DFL leaders announced yesterday they had agreed on a $846 million state bonding bill package, though there remain questions about whether they have the Republican votes needed to pass the bill. Gov. Mark Dayton has yet to weigh in on the deal as well.

Blois Olson posted an informative spreadsheet showing the projects included in the bonding bill agreement. Though, I imagine that some changes may occur today to pull in Republican votes.

Notable northern Minnesota projects included $19.5 million to help pay for the Highway 53 reroute between Eveleth and Virginia. The state had agreed decades ago to reroute the highway when mining activity reached its edge, which it now has. The Range Regional Airport in Hibbing is set to receive $5 million for a new terminal and other upgrades. The Reif Center in Grand Rapids would receive nearly $3.9 million for a major renovation that will greatly expand its offerings.

Vermilion State Park, a new park that has yet to open and remains something of an unfunded enigma, received $14 million in this bonding agreement, and should thus come into official existence sometime soon.

Duluth, which had been shortchanged in several earlier version of the bill, appears to have rallied. $6.9 million for renovations to the NorShore Theater; $3.4 million for Spirit Mountain; and $2.3 million for Wade Stadium were all included in this agreement.

The five community colleges of northeastern Minnesota — Itasca, Hibbing, Rainy River, Mesabi and Vermilion — are set to receive $3.44 million for various campus projects. International Falls is also due more than $2 million for its airport.

Though the bonding bill size could shift some to acquire Republican votes, most of these projects appear headed for the victory circle, provided last minute negotiations don’t blow up the bonding bill entirely.

NOTES: The bonding bill requires a super majority, which means a handful of GOPers must vote for the bill if it is to pass, and Gov. Dayton must sign it. Every two years, sometimes more, the state issues bonds to pay for important infrastructure and public works projects around the state. So the money doesn’t come all at once from the general fund, but rather is paid out over time, like your home mortgage or car loan. Just bigger. Much bigger.

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