Dayton: $986M Bonding Bill Would Add 27K Jobs

Governor Mark Dayton focused on higher education, Capitol renovations, and clean water investments in his most recent proposal.

Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday introduced a bonding proposal that would invest $986 million in statewide projects and, according to his office, create an estimated 27,000 Minnesota jobs.
Similar to the bonding bill Dayton announced in April, the money would be heavily invested in improvements to cities’ downtowns, higher education, transportation infrastructure, state Capitol restoration, and clean water investments.

The largest chunk of the proposal, $233 million, would go toward higher education investments. A total of $80 million would be allotted for renovations at MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) and University of Minnesota campuses statewide, and an additional $74 million for infrastructure improvements at 17 other MnSCU campuses statewide. The rest would be used for University of Minnesota lab facility improvements.

MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone supported Dayton’s proposal, stating that it would help ensure that Minnesota graduates stay competitive on the global scale.

“The governor’s bonding proposal makes construction projects for higher education a top priority and recognizes the critical role Minnesota’s state colleges and universities play in providing access to an extraordinary education for Minnesotans from all backgrounds and every part of the state,” Rosenstone said in a statement.

The bill would also doll out an additional $126.3 million for the state Capitol restoration project, which is expected to complete its repairs by the end of 2016.

Over $104 million would be dedicated to downtown improvements and to regional civic centers statewide. This would include $20 million for revitalizing Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, $37 million for the Rochester Mayo Civic Center expansion, and $14 million to expand and renovate the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul.

More than $79 million would be dedicated to transportation infrastructure such as bridge repair, local road improvements, and specific road and bridge construction at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills, a contaminated site that was once in consideration for the new Vikings stadium.

The bonding bill also includes $70.7 million for clean drinking water investments and wastewater treatment projects; $54.6 million for natural resource projects including asset preservation, parks and trails, and land restoration; and $50 million for housing infrastructure and rehabilitation (which Dayton said would be the largest-ever bonding investment in affordable housing).
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman threw his support behind Dayton’s proposal shortly after its release. “Governor Dayton has shown consistent support for projects that create jobs and have statewide impact. His proposed 2014 bonding bill is no exception,” Coleman said in a statement.

Coleman emphasized the benefits of St. Paul developments included in the bill, which—in addition to the Children’s Museum—include a renovation at the Palace Theatre and improvements at Como Zoo.

While Democrats like Coleman are lining up in support of the bill, it’s likely to be met with resistance from Republicans.

While Representative Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) believes the list includes some “worthwhile projects,” he released a statement arguing against the amount of spending in the proposal.

“Today's wish list is another example of Governor Dayton asking hardworking Minnesotans to overpay for things they would never buy for their families or small businesses,” Dean said in a statement. “The governor shouldn't send hardworking taxpayers a credit card bill for his out-of-touch spending.”

For the bill to pass, it would need approval in the House and Senate.
“My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state,” Dayton said in a statement. “This bill gives priority to projects that are ready to go. Many of them have been delayed for years and are crucial to revitalizing downtown business centers, modernizing MnSCU and U of M buildings and classrooms, and improving parks, roads, and local infrastructure.”

To see the governor’s complete list of recent budget recommendations click here.