Public works spending agreement reached for special session

As legislators prepare for a special session, leaders have agreed on public works spending that includes a proposed $180 million bonding bill and $373 million in highway funding.

This capital spending agreement may indicate that negotiators are getting close to agreement on the other issues that are holding up a special session.

The bonding bill includes more funding for the state Capitol renovation, and the highway money includes the Hwy. 53 project in Virginia, Minnesota.

There’s also money for animal testing labs, geared toward avian flu.

Not included was a controversial item from the earlier bonding bill attempt: $7.2 million for a 30-stall parking garage at the Capitol.

State Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said the bill includes investments in transportation, an emphasis on immediate needs at state colleges and universities, flood relief and mitigation, and wastewater facilities and water pipelines.

While it’s less than he’d originally hoped, Stumpf said this bonding will help fix some of the most urgent projects.

GOP Rep. Paul Torkelson said: “It’s a nuts and bolts, infrastructure, get-stuff-done kind of bill. Nothing fancy, and I don’t think anything that would be controversial.”

The bill includes:

  • $26.5 million to the University of Minnesota for the Willmar Poultry Testing Lab and a replacement of the veterinary isolation facility.
  • $31.9 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
  • $23.5 million to the Department of Natural Resources for flood hazard mitigation projects.
  • $171 million to the Department of Transportation ($31 million in GO Bonds; $140 million in Trunk Highway Bonds).
  • $29 million to the Public Facilities Authority for wastewater infrastructure and the Lewis and Clark Water Authority.
  • $10 million to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

A capital budget list itemizes the projects in the agreement.

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