When the House Capital Investment Committee approved a $600 million bonding proposal almost two weeks ago on a split voice vote, many DFLers could be heard voting against the plan.
The total has since increased to $800 million, an amount called for in the House Budget Resolution.
That was still not enough to garner unanimous support Tuesday, but it was enough for the House Ways and Means Committee to approve HF892, as amended, on a split voice vote and send it to the House Floor for expected action Wednesday.
“One way or another we got to do this,” said Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), the bill sponsor. “We have critical needs in this state, we have a crumbling infrastructure. We have to find a way to get this done."
Urdahl, who chairs the bonding committee, said there is no cash in the bill, which is heavy on infrastructure and contains $106 million in asset preservation.
Among the larger changes, the bill now includes nearly $70.3 million for renovation and expansion at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, which houses and treats Minnesotans that courts have civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous. The first phase was funded in 2014, and employees testified before the bonding committee earlier this month about safety issues, including poor sightlines to view patient activity.
Other spending additions include:
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More than $3.7 billion in requests were submitted. Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a $1.5 billion proposal in January. Sponsored by Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), SF210, which includes $973 million in general-obligation bonding and $201.9 million in General Fund spending, awaits action by the full Senate.
Odd-numbered years are traditionally focused on establishing a state budget with a smaller bonding bill; even-numbered years are often centered on a large capital investment plan.
However, last year’s inaction has led to calls for a bigger bill this year. Supporters note a construction season was lost in 2016, construction costs are ticking upward and interest rates are relatively low.
A House vote was taken in the chaotic final minutes of the final day on a plan introduced a few hours earlier. The DFL-controlled Senate added a plan to pay for the controversial Southwest light-rail project just before the clock struck midnight, but the House had adjourned sine die. Capital investment was part of the unsuccessful special session discussion over the final seven months of 2016.
Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) suggested a $2 billion bill be passed this year and then have no bill next year.
Urdahl called it “an interesting concept that has been bantered about,” but said that’s not going to happen.
The state’s latest economic forecast projects a budget deficit of $188 million for the current two-year biennium, and a $586 million deficit for the 2020-21 biennium
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s 2018-19 operating budget.
The budget process explained — and why it matters