Legislature finishes off $1 billion in state building projects, sends to Dayton
May 16, 2014 — 12:11pm
The Legislature finished up one of its remaining major tasks on Friday morning when the Senate passed a $1.17 billion package of state-backed construction projects and sent it to Gov. Mark Dayton.
The largest project in the package is $126 million in state bonds to finish the ongoing renovation of the State Capitol.
The measure also includes $240 million in building and renovation projects on state college and university campuses. The Tate Laboratory of Physics at the University of Minnesota gets $56.7 million of that pot.
Also a part of the bonding bill is $113 million for roads, bridges and transportation projects; $100 million to beef up affordable housing options around the state; $61 million for civic center projects in Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato; $56 million to renovate the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter; $22 million to continue work on the Lewis and Clark water pipeline project in southwestern Minnesota; $21 million to renovate Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis; $14 million for an expansion and renovation of the Children's Museum in St. Paul; $12 million for projects at the Minnesota Zoo; and a range of other projects.
Money for the projects came in two chunks: $86 million in state borrowing, and an additional $200 million in cash. The Senate approved the bonding portion by a vote of 47-17 and the cash portion by a vote of 44-19, both with bipartisan support.
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said it would be easy for lawmakers to nitpick the bill's final mix of projects. But he praised the measure for spreading projects around the state. Senjem singled out the inclusion of money for the civic center projects, all of which had long been pursued by lawmakers from those three cities.
"Finally, at least, civic centers in three major regional centers across Minnesota will be completed," Senjem said.
Gov. Mark Dayton has been a strong advocate of a hefty construction bill, although he declined to sign off on a deal with legislative leaders who wanted assurances that the governor would not use his veto pen to trim specific projects from the list.
Gov. Mark Dayton, speaking to a mostly Republican audience at the annual Minnesota Business Partnership dinner, repeated his familiar attack on the House GOP, blaming them for a legislative impasse on transportation.
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