More than $57 million in proposed bonding projects, including physically separating sex offenders from vulnerable adults at the St. Peter state hospital grounds, were presented to the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
The $41.7 million project is part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed $47.3 million 2012 capital budget request for the Department of Human Services. Other recommended projects include $3.1 million for matching grants to renovate early childhood learning facilities and $2.5 million for statewide facility preservation.
“It’s a ton of money but the system costs us a ton of money,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka).
No action was taken on the governor’s proposals, nor three bills heard by the committee: a proposal for a new mental health facility for children in Hennepin County, renovating a monastery for use as a regional safety service center in Maplewood and finishing the purchase and placement of grave markers for unmarked graves of former state hospital residents.
Instead, committee members were asked to listen to each presentation and then use a ballot to rank projects by priority. The ballots are to be tallied at Thursday’s committee hearing.
Bills presented were:
- HF291, sponsored by Rep. Carol McFarlane (R-White Bear Lake) for the renovation of the Harriet Tubman Center East in Maplewood. A companion bill, SF15, is sponsored by Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood);
- HF1922, sponsored by Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker) for a new Washburn Center for Children, has no Senate companion; and
- HF285, sponsored by Rep. Patti Fritz (DFL-Faribault), for grave markers; Senate Majority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester) sponsors its companion, SF526.
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) asked members to give some thought to adding guest services to the St. Peter facilities so that clients can receive visitors and keep their personal connections which are important for their rehabilitation.