Calling it an opportunity to preserve assets and complete some long overdue projects, Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) unveiled the House capital investment proposal Tuesday.
A delete-all amendment to HF270 calls for $858.38 million in appropriations, of which $800 million would be from general-obligation bonds. A plan unveiled Monday by Gov. Mark Dayton proposes spending $750 million, of which $675 million would be from general-obligation bonding.
“It continues to take advantage of historically low interest rates; creates temporary, permanent and spinoff jobs vital to the state’s continued economic recovery; and it makes strategic investments with high returns on investment,” Hausman said. “It continues to help push us out of the recession.”
Amendments are expected to be offered at the Thursday meeting of the House Capital Investment Committee before a vote is taken.
Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood), the committee’s Republican lead, questioned the timing of the bill. “We shouldn’t talk about a bonding bill before the budget in a non-bonding year,” he said after the meeting. “Our caucus priority is not a bonding bill at this point. … (House Minority Leader Kurt) Daudt has made it clear we need a budget before we borrow.”
Typically, the first year of a biennium is devoted to state budgetary issues with a larger bonding bill developed in the second year.
As it stands, the bill’s largest investment matches the governor: $109 million to continue restoration of the State Capitol. Hausman said another $94 million would be needed in the 2014 bonding bill to complete refurbishment of the 108-year-old building.
“The need for a comprehensive preservation effort was identified 30 years ago, and we are now getting the warning that further inaction will lead to significantly larger expenses needed to address these problems without fixing or solving the root cause,” Hausman said. “Our capitol must be preserved so it can serve the people of Minnesota in the same manner that it has since its completion in 1905.”
Higher education would fare well within the proposal, as it calls for $103.17 million in general-obligation bonding for the University of Minnesota and $89.04 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, including $31 million for a science education center at Metropolitan State University. Asset preservation would be funded at $50 million for MnSCU and $30 million for the university.
Included in the university’s allocation is $47.5 million for a new James Ford Bell Natural History Museum and Planetarium on the St. Paul campus. This was not in the governor’s proposal.
Like the governor, the House proposal includes three convention center expansions: $35 million in Rochester, $14.5 million in Mankato and $10.1 million in St. Cloud. It also includes $14 million to expand the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul, but does not include $20 million to reconstruct Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. However, it does contain $7 million for Minneapolis Sculpture Garden preservation.
In the governor’s plan, but missing from the House bill, is $54 million to finish expansion at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. The House plan does provide $5.34 million for asset preservation at veteran’s homes in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay.
Hausman said another approach needs to be looked at, whereby, in part, there are more veteran’s homes around the state, rather than focusing on a single Minneapolis location.
“We started renovation of the Minneapolis home back in 2009,” said Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake). “Are we really doing what we should be doing for our men and women who have served our country? I really feel that the perception out there that we’re not. We’re putting money into museums, state trails, sculpture gardens, nature centers and so forth. I think our men and women that have served our country over the years really deserve better. … I think we should be looking at finishing that project in Minneapolis and then going forward with some of these other concepts.”
Other funding in the bill includes:
- $50 million in a transit capital improvement program;
- $36.3 million to construct new facilities at the state security hospital in St. Peter to allow sex offenders to be housed separately from mentally ill and dangerous inmates;
- $25 million for wastewater infrastructure funding;
- $20 million for local bridge replacement and rehabilitation;
- $20 million for flood mitigation;
- $16.2 million for state trails development;
- $15 million for passenger rail; and
- $5.2 million for asset preservation at the Minnesota Zoo.