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“There seems to be a little strain on relationships,” he said. “I don’t see their discipline this year. It seems a little fractured.”
While the House was readying its $800 million bonding bill, the Senate ripped out the biggest potential bonding project — funds urgently needed to repair the State Capitol — and included it in its tax bill. It was not a move that signaled great confidence that there will be a bonding bill out of the Senate this year.
“Unless something changes, I think the passage of a bonding bill seems highly unlikely,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, noting that Senate Republicans have signaled that they would support more borrowing only if the Senate doesn’t raise new revenue in this year’s tax bill. The tax bill the Senate passed this week contained $1.8 billion in new revenue.
“And another thing — I don’t know if it’s going to be possible to get 39 Democratic votes,” Bakk said.
But if the House passes a bonding bill this month, Bakk said, the Senate would be ready to bring a bill of its own up for a vote, win or lose.
“There’s a question of whether there’s votes,” said Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairman LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, who nevertheless is plowing ahead with hearings on the bonding requests. And there are a lot of them. If he gave everyone everything they asked, he told the committee Wednesday, the state would need to borrow about $3 billion.
The actual Senate bonding bill, Stumpf said, would be in the neighborhood of the $750 million worth of projects Gov. Mark Dayton requested or the $800 million on the House side. Dayton, meanwhile, is still holding out hope for a bonding bill this year.
“Interest rates are very low, [and] there are a lot of urgent needs out there,” he told reporters this week. “To me, it’s obvious that we need to proceed. I don’t know what the Senate’s strategy is.”
Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049