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This year, Dayton proposed borrowing $37 million for a civic center in Rochester, $20 million to revitalize Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall, $14.5 million to add to the Mankato civic center and $14 million for a long-sought expansion of the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul. Heavily DFL Duluth and Republican-leaning St. Cloud also would see state money to help their downtown projects under Dayton’s plan.
The governor’s proposed $29 million for roads and bridges around the munitions plant in Arden Hills would give that Ramsey County project nearly as much as all other bridge repair projects statewide. State help would be a consolation prize of sorts: Local officials and the Minnesota Vikings had agreed in 2011 to build a new stadium on the 430-acre site. Ultimately, that site was discarded in favor of a stadium where the Metrodome now stands.
Arden Hills and Ramsey County are working on a multiyear project to prepare the site for development, which includes ridding it of a costly, years-old buildup of pollutants left behind by the ammunition plant.
Dean said the size of Dayton’s proposed Arden Hills investment “stuck out to me as a little odd” and worthy of further exploration.
The governor also wants more than $150 million for improvements and infrastructure at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. He is seeking more than $68 million to renovate the University of Minnesota’s Tate Science and Teaching building and pay for the U’s research and laboratory improvement fund.
Included on that list: Money for bees. Amid fears that bee colonies are collapsing, the university asked the state for money to upgrade the facility that houses its 95-year-old honeybee research program.
“We had a lengthy discussion about the need to improve the conditions for the bees,” Dayton said with a laugh.
Dayton also proposed that the state borrow $54 million for such natural resource projects as forestation, native prairie conservative, parks and trail improvements — the same type of programs that could be paid for through so-called Legacy funds. The state Legacy Fund is a voter-approved sales tax increase designed to bolster state spending on the outdoors and nature.
Dayton’s package includes $946 million in general obligation bonds, another $40 million in Minnesota Housing Finance Agency bonds and other costs that bring the total to just more than $1 billion. The cost of borrowing would add an estimated $487 million in interest over the 20-year life of the bonds.
Dayton said that even if legislators approve the complete package, he would likely ask the state to borrow more the following year if voters send him back to the governor’s office.
“It’s become commonplace,” he said.
Staff writer Baird Helgeson contributed to this report.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Twitter: @RachelSB