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Gov. Walz wants record $2.7 billion bonding bill

(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz unveiled a record $2.7 billion bonding request for capital investments statewide – an $800 million spending increase from 2020’s bonding package, which at that time was a record.

“In 2020, we passed the largest jobs bill in state history, investing in the projects that local communities told us matter most to them. Now with Minnesota’s strong economic outlook, we have an opportunity to make even more progress,” Walz said in a statement. “With a focus on projects like roads, bridges, fire stations, and veterans homes, our plan will repair and replace critical infrastructure and improve the lives of Minnesotans in every corner of the state.”

The plan would be funded via $2 billion in general obligation bonds, $250 million in appropriation bonds, and $276 million in general fund cash, plus other bonds.

Spending focuses on five areas: asset preservation, infrastructure, housing, community, and environment.

More than $1 billion would be spent on asset preservation, while $260 million would repair buildings in the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems and $111 million would flow to the Department of Natural Resources to repair buildings, roads, and trails.

The 46-page wishlist includes:

  • $250 million in Housing Infrastructure Bonds.
  • $60 million for Public Housing Rehabilitation.
  • $46 million to upgrade Capitol security.
  • $20 million to renovate the zoo.
  • $13.8 million for electric vehicle chargers.

Infrastructure

  • $560 million in infrastructure projects.
  • $120 million for local bridge replacements.
  • $90 million for local road improvement projects.
  • $200 million in local water infrastructure grants and loans.

Community

  • $400 million to support community-focused projects focusing on Blacks, Native Americans, and communities of color.

Environmental

  • $262 million in environmental stewardship projects, including $20 million in flood hazard mitigation grants, $60 million in capital improvements to bus rapid transit, $20 million for local government stormwater construction grants, and $8 million in dam safety repair and reconstruction.
  • $750 million in projects for climate mitigation.

In all, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said state agencies and local governments requested state government fund $5 billion worth of projects funded via bonding.

Senate Republicans are on a bonding tour visiting 40 projects this week and haven’t yet responded to a request for comment.

House Capital Investment Committee Chair Rep. Fue Lee, DFL-Mpls, welcomed the record spending suggestion.

“In communities throughout Minnesota, there is an immense need for investment in local projects and resources that bring jobs and opportunities to the region, especially when it comes to investing in marginalized Minnesotans and addressing our state’s housing crisis,” Lee said in a statement.

Sen. Tom Bakk, I-Cook, said he hadn’t yet reviewed the bonding proposal because he’s traveling on the bonding tour with Republicans but will prioritize public safety, asset preservation, and deferred maintenance projects.

Bonding bills must start in the House and clear a ⅗ majority in each chamber, which requires mutual agreement between parties.

Minnesota Management and Budget will present Walz’s bonding recommendations to the House Capital Investment Committee on February 4.

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