A $496 million package of road, bridge, construction and development projects cleared the Legislature Tuesday afternoon.
After a brief debate, the House signed off on the changes the Senate made in the bonding bill on Monday night. The capital construction projects bill passed by a lopsided 97-33.
“It’s too bad for Minnesota that this bill is about to pass,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, one of the holdouts, who called bonding “the ugliest process here at the Capitol.”
The bill is intended to kick-start construction projects across the state, with millions heading to college campuses, road projects, bridge repairs and back to the Capitol itself for $44 million in repairs to the aging landmark.
Other highlights in the bill include $64 million for projects in the University of Minnesota system, $132 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, $78 million for economic development, $30 million for flood control projects, $30 million for bridge repair and replacement, $35 million for affordable housing, $10 million for local road projects, and $4 million for the state agency that runs the Minnesota Zoo.
The Senate version of the bill also restored two projects that had been dropped from the house bill -- a $500,000 floodwall for South St. Paul and $2 million for the Harriet Tubman domestic violence shelter in Maplewood.
Many lawmakers were disappointed that their local projects were stripped out of the bill – projects like civic centers, the Southwest light rail corridor project and a ballpark for the St. Paul Saints. But the bill also includes a $50 million pot of grant money that will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Communities could apply to the newly-created Business Development Through Capital Project Grant Program for funds to help build their civic centers or ballparks or other projects that didn’t make it into the bill. DEED officials say they knew nothing about the program until it popped up in a later version of the bonding bill last week.