DFL Gov. Mark Dayton rolled out a billion dollar bonding bill for state construction projects and Republicans in control of the legislature quickly shot it down. “This is about putting Minnesota back to work” the governor estimated the bill could create 28,000 jobs. Despite Dayton leaving half the bill for lawmakers to fill with their own ideas, legislative leaders said there would be no bonding bill in this budget year except maybe emergency projects such as flooding at the end of session. “Taxing and borrowing cannot be Minnesota’s answer” to the recession according to GOP Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel.
As usual much of the money would go to higher education projects and building restoration. Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato get money for civic centers in the governor’s bill, along with the St. Paul Saints and Target Center. Dayton called such projects “downtown revitalization” that he learned the importance of in his family’s former downtown Dayton’s department store. DFL former bonding chair Rep. Alice Hausman was concerned about the lack of transit money. Her former counterpart Sen. Keith Langseth thinks there will be funds for transit in the end but a bill “probably won’t come until the final days.”
New GOP Bonding Chair Larry Howes said “Minnesotans are fed up with earmarks” and he doesn’t think it’s right for lawmakers to bring home pet projects to blunt the budget cuts they will likely make. Senate Bonding Chair Dave Senjem is now even against the Rochester civic center in his hometown saying “We better get the budget and jobs figured out before we get the credit card out.”