Discussion Possible for Off-Year Minnesota Bonding Bill

By KBJR News 1

January 7, 2013 Updated Jan 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - While the budget battle is priority number one when the Minnesota legislature convenes Tuesday in St. Paul, there is talk that there may be room to discuss an off-year bonding bill as well.

Bonding bills are typically reserved for even numbered years. However, nothing precludes talks about a bonding bill during this session.

In fact, Governor Mark Dayton says he wouldn't oppose one.

Money from a bonding bill goes to cities and counties across the state to help fund various projects, like the new transit hub in the works on Michigan Street in Duluth.

The project received $4.5 million in last year's bonding bill, helping pay the total price tag of $27 million.

With gaining momentum for a bonding bill this session, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce says it's preparing a list of potential projects it would like to see funded.

The Director of Policy & Education for the chamber, Roger Wedin, says with the economy slowly recovering and interest rates remaining historically low, there is some sentiment that now is time for the state to help fund projects.

"If a bonding bill begins to takes shape then we are going to be prepared to tee up some projects, said Wedin. "The county has some road issues with the Hibbing mining activity that needs attention, Spirit Mountain is looking for water supply support so they can draw water from the St. Louis River to make snow. Wade Stadium is still on the city's list, NorShore Theater, public improvement for that facility are on the list."

Wedin says they are prepared to move quickly, but admit it's still fairly soon to be discussing bonding potential, something officials with the Duluth School District and UMD agree with.

The University of Minnesota hopes to secure $125 million for the entire system.

A portion of those funds will help UMD repair Heller Hall, an academic, laboratory, and office facility. UMD officials say Heller Hall needs code, fire/life safety, ADA, and HVAC upgrades.

Most Republican and DFL lawmakers say any issue will take a back seat to the biennium budget, which includes a $1.1 billion deficit.

Senator Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) says he wouldn't be surprised if it took all five months of the session to shape the budget.

Kevin Jacobsen
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