Governor’s bonding bill tilts toward Greater Minnesota

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Yesterday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton released his proposed $842 million bonding bill. While a bonding bill is expected from the DFL-controlled State Senate, there are mixed signals coming out of the GOP-led State House as to whether a full bonding bill will be on the table or not.

The governor’s plan invests in economic development, rail and pipeline safety, higher education, workforce housing and homelessness, flood mitigation and dam improvements, historical and cultural preservation and other investments including prisons, wastewater treatment plants and National Guard bases.

On the Mesabi Iron Range, projects include facility improvements at Mesabi Range College and Vermilion Community College and HVAC upgrades at the Minnesota DNR facility in Grand Rapids. There were other bonding requests from the Iron Range, including a major project at my employer Hibbing Community College, so any hope for those projects would have to come from a Senate bonding bill. Any House bonding bill is likely to be much smaller than the governor’s plan.

The Iron Range seemed to get a little less out of this bonding bill, but to be fair the Iron Range is going to consume its share of transportation funding in coming years due to the $240 million it will cost to relocate Highway 53 and build a bridge to accommodate mining activity.

Duluth had several more bonding projects, along with other projects around Northern Minnesota. The governor’s office lists the complete roster of bonding projects.

Typically, bonding is done in the odd years and enjoys bipartisan support, but in recent years due to a number of political and economic factors there has been a bonding bill nearly every year. That’s why there’s contention about the size, scope and even the very existence of a bonding bill this year.

From the governor’s office:

ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton today introduced a Jobs Bill that would invest $842 million in infrastructure projects statewide, creating more than 23,900* Minnesota jobs. This new Jobs Bill would help addresses many of the state’s critical infrastructure needs, while strengthening Minnesota’s economy and putting thousands of people to work.

“My proposals would put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state,” said Governor Dayton. “This bill gives priority to projects that have been delayed for years and are crucial to modernizing MnSCU and U of M buildings and classrooms, and improving local infrastructure. I ask the Legislature to join me in working to pass a Jobs Bill this session to boost Minnesota’s economy and address our state’s most crucial infrastructure needs.”

The Governor’s Jobs Bill includes critical infrastructure projects distributed all across Minnesota. The bill balances the needs of the state, with 43 percent of the projects are in Greater Minnesota, 38 percent in the Twin Cities Area, and 19 percent of the projects with statewide impacts. Governor Dayton’ Jobs Bill also is designed to make state resources go farther, by leveraging more than $420 million in private, local, and federal dollars.

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