Senate passes bonding bill. Now what?


With the two-thirds majority required to overturn any veto threat from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday passed SF 2360, a $1 billion bonding bill on a vote of 52-14.

If you want a concise summary of the arguments for and against the bill, Senate Media Services offers a short video summary here, as well as an argument from Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, the bill’s chief author and bonding bill baron, about why the time is now for a big borrowing bill. That’s here, and you can also watch the whole floor debate here, if you’re so inclined.

What’s the next step? The House of Representatives has its own bonding bill, HF 2700, from Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, and it might be headed for a floor vote soon too. You can compare the differences between the two bills and how they differ from Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan in one pdf spreadsheet located here.

If and when both chambers pass their own bill, they’ll need to be reconciled in conference committee before a final vote. Pawlenty could veto the entire bill, as he threatened to already if it’s too big, or he could veto individual projects he doesn’t support from the bill.

If he vetoes the whole thing, the House and Senate could try to overturn that veto, if each has the support of two-thirds of the body to do so. That’s why I noted the margin in the Senate, but really, the sticking point will be the House. DFLers have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, but not in the House, so they’d need Republicans to join them to get past a Pawlenty veto.

If that’s confusing, think about the health care reform bill in Congress and how Democrats can’t seem to finish it off, because they no longer have the 60th vote to break a filibuster in the Senate. Then think about what would get done if they needed 66 votes to overturn the veto of a Republican president.

Think about this, too. The Minnesota Budget Project’s blog, Minnesota Budget Bites, has a thought-provoking post about how the state’s cash flow problems could get worse if the Legislature passes a bonding bill with lots of “shovel-ready” projects in it to stimulate the economy, as many say they want to.

One more thing to think about: party line crossover votes. DFLers picked up Republican votes on the bonding bill from Sens. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, Dennis Fredrickson, R-New Ulm, Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, Mike Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, and even the Senate Minority Leader, David Senjem, R-Rochester.

They’ll need to do that in the House too, if they want a veto-proof majority for the bill. But somewhere along the way they lost the DFL votes of Sens. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, and John Doll, DFL-Burnsville. Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, was absent from Tuesday’s vote.

So what, if anything, did these guys want that they didn’t see in the bill? And just how shaky is the coalition to pass a big bonding bill? We’ll see more as the action moves to the House.

UPDATE: Chaudhary tried, but failed, to get an amendment inserted that would have asked employers receiving bonding money to guarantee that 90 percent of their employees working on the project have lived in Minnesota for at least 90 days.