Legislative Update - Bonding Proposal Review

On January 15th of this year Governor Dayton announced his $1.4 billion bonding proposal in what was titled a “Jobs Bill.” Since that date, non-partisan state officials have indicated that we don’t have the debt capacity to accommodate that amount for a bonding bill, with targets set at about $850 million or less.

 The Governor proposed the following list of projects, listed by county:

 http://www.mn.gov/governor/images/2016_01_15_snapshot_jobs_bill_by_county.pdf

Additionally, here is the list of water projects in his proposal, by city:

http://www.mn.gov/gov-stat/pdf/2016_01_14_snapshot_projects_by_city.pdf

Nonetheless, House Republicans remain disappointed that the Governor did not set aside funds for Greater Minnesota or suburban transportation projects. road-sign-808733__180.jpgWithin the Governor’s bonding bill, only Minneapolis and St. Paul represent metro / suburban projects. Additionally, Gov. Dayton revived the gas tax as part of his supplemental budget proposal just last week.

The House Capital Investment Committee, led by Chair Paul Torkelson (Republican of St. James), is taking the necessary time to properly vet all bonding requests during this legislative session

He has stated, “As chairman of the capital investment committee, my focus will be to ensure that projects of statewide benefit will be prioritized in our bonding bill. We don’t want to misuse the state’s credit card and borrow up to our limit. Having toured the state and paged through dozens of proposals totaling billions of dollars, I can tell you there are many worthwhile projects out there and that the final selection process will be strenuous.”

 Representative Jason Rarick (Republican of Kanabec and Pine Counties), who also serves on the House Capital Investment Committee, believes “infrastructure projects in small towns should be a top priority for state bonding funds – not parks or civic centers.”

Here are just two initial items of note:

 •     The governor puts money toward one bridge in Minneapolis and one bridge in St. Paul, but no dollars were put toward roads and bridges in the suburbs or rural Minnesota.

•     The governor funds projects like a snowmaking machine in St. Paul and ski lifts at Giants Ridge.

  Please remember these things:

  1. Governor Dayton failed to set aside even $1 for road and bridge infrastructure in Greater Minnesota or the suburbs. Fixing our state's roads and bridges is a priority for Minnesotans in all parts of the state, and should be one of the first priorities in any bonding bill. Additionally, there are concerns about the hefty price tag that includes wasteful projects like snowmaking machines in Saint Paul and ski lifts.
  2. Wastewater treatment plants and drinking water infrastructure are vital to cities throughout the state, and are expensive to build, upgrade, and operate. Republicans will take the necessary time to properly vet these bonding requests during this legislative session.

Legislators are carefully crafting strategies to complete the session by the constitutional deadline of May 23. A tax bill and transportation package were left in conference committee at the conclusion of 2015. These must be addressed before legislators head home to campaign in their districts.

Sources:

-    Minnesota House GOP Press Releases

-    The Pine City Pioneer

-    Mankato Times

-    sourced websites

 

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