Pitching it as a jobs stimulator, Gov. Mark Dayton Monday proposed a $1 billion borrowing bill, which included an unusual olive branch to Republican lawmakers -- he asked them to pick out half of the projects.
Republican leaders, who control the Legislature, said he could keep the olives.
"Taxing and borrowing cannot be Minnesota's answer to a recession," said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel.
Dayton said now is precisely the right time to borrow for state projects. Interest rates are low and the construction industry needs the jobs.
"This is about putting Minnesotans back to work," the DFL governor said.
He selected $531 million worth of projects, including borrowing for St. Paul Saints facility, civic centers in Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud and Minneapolis' Target Center, and left another $470 million as a fill in the blank for lawmakers. Many of the projects on Dayton's list were ones former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, vetoed last year.
Specifically, Dayton's projects of note include downtown revitalization projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including Target Center and a ballpark for the Saints, continued maintenance of veterans homes, and transit improvements at the Mall of America and in Newport and Ramsey.
Within minutes of the announcement, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released a statement applauding the governor for the ballpark proposal, saying it puts his city "one step closer to building a community facility that will bring visitors from across the state together in celebration of America's favorite pastime, baseball."
Coleman added that such a facility would not only host the minor-league team but also high school tournaments. He pegs economic growth from a new ballpark in the Lowertown section of the city at about $10 million annually.
Dayton's proposal also allocates $28 million for flood hazard mitigation in areas bracing for spring floods and $16 million for a dam improvement in Coon Rapids to prevent the spread of invasive species.
If Dayton hoped the invitation for lawmakers to pick their own projects would bring along leadership support from the GOP, his hopes were quickly dashed.
"We are saying no to a bonding bill unless it is an emergency at this time," said Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker and the chair of the House Capitol investment committee.
Here are the projects Dayton would like the state to help build:
The Associated Press and staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this post.