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Despite financial hard times, Legislature passes bill to borrow millions
A bill that authorizes borrowing of $237 million for capital investments was one of the final bills passed by the Legislature. The bill provides funding for statewide projects in the arts, flood relief and higher education. The bill was a top priority of Senate DFLers who said it would stimulate the economy. Opponents say the bill is inappropriate during a budget crisis.

St. Paul, Minn. — Most of the projects in the bonding bill were vetoed last year by then Gov. Jesse Ventura. Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, has been pushing to pass the funding for construction projects. He it's the right time to pass a large bonding bill because the poor economy has construction companies itching for work.

"You'll see that the times to bond and build are during the downturns. It's a little hard to think about that, to be out there spending money when there's tough times. But if there's buildings that are needed, projects that are needed and you have got a 20-year pay, that is the time to bond and build."

The bill provides over $100 million in construction projects for higher education. The University of Minnesota will receive $49 million for buildings and renovation. Sixty-million dollars goes to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universitites. The Guthrie Theater would get $25 million for its new complex, and the Children's Theatre would get $5 million for its expansion. Transportation and natural resource projects would also get funding.

The Senate passed the bill on a 49-to-13 vote with no debate. The House passed it overwhelmingly 100-to-27.

Gov. Pawlenty and House leadership didn't want the bill, but made the concession in budget negotiations.

"My position all session long was that we didn't need a bonding bill this year," said Rep. Phil Krinkie, R-Shoreview, the chair of the House Capital Investment Committee. He didn't introduce the bill on the floor, voted against it and admitted that he didn't have a role in shaping it in last-minute budget negotiations. He says the state shouldn't have passed the bill when they were making budget cuts.

"It doesn't mean that I think some of the projects weren't very worthwhile. It doesn't mean I don't think there are some projects that could have moved forward, but I think there are a lot of projects in this bill that certainly could have waited for another time and another day."

Others, like Rep. Eric Lipman, R-Lake Elmo, voted against it because their priorities weren't included. He says the bill doesn't address flood problems in his district. yet provides funding for the Wabasha Eagle Center and a building at the National Sports Event Center in Blaine.

"It's outrageous misfortune to say we're going to build public perches for eagles. We're going to build dormitories for North Dakota school children in Minnesota and we're going to create conference rooms for soccer players before we do the most basic commitments on our own infrastructure that we own," Lipman said.

Others protested funding for the Guthrie Theater and the Children's Theatre.

Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, defended funding for the Guthrie, saying it has regional significance.

"The Guthrie has outreach even in greater Minnesota. It's not just a regional theater; it is an international theater. It has people coming from all over the world to their performances. I want to point out to all of you from greater Minnesota that this is truly a statewide theater," he said.

Several Minneapolis DFLers voted against the bill because they wanted funding for neighborhood development in Minneapolis. DFLer Phyllis Kahn voted for the bill but says the neighborhood development project would provide a boost.

"This item in the bill gives the bill a little heart for people who have little hope. And don't have the hope of going to the Guthrie and don't have the hope of using the translational research facility at the university," she said.

Supporters say they'll push for an even bigger bonding bill next year, an even numbered year in which the Legislature would traditionally consider capital investments.



($48.7 million total with the state's share $40.9 million)

-$24.7 million for a medical research building on the Minneapolis campus.

-$8.6 million for renovations to buildings on the Morris campus.

-$8 million for Jones Hall renovation on the Minneapolis campus.

-$3 million toward a teaching and technology center in Minneapolis.

-$2.4 million for miscellaneous facility improvements in Crookston, Grand Rapids and Waseca.

-$1.5 million for upgrades to a veterinarian lab in St. Paul.

-$400,000 toward predesign of a genomics building tied to a Mayo-U alliance.

-$70,000 to construct a swine farrowing facility in Morris.


($59.7 million total with the state's share $39.8 million)

-$10 million in land aquisition across the system.

-$10 million for building renovations at St. Cloud State University.

-$9.2 million for library upgrades at Southwest State University.

-$8.4 million for athletic facility renovations at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

-$6.3 million for various projects at Minnesota West Community and Technical College at Worthington.

-$5.5 million for various renovations at the Northeast Higher Education District Virginia campus.

-$2.8 million for science lab projects at Ridgewater Community and Technical College in Willmar.

-$2 million for projects on the Eden Prairie and Brooklyn Park campuses of Hennepin Technical College.

-$1 million for a Bemidji State University technology and health care project.

-$760,000 for maintenance shop expansion at Fergus Falls Community College.

-$700,000 toward classroom and lab design at Lake Superior Community and Technical College.

-$700,000 for construction design at St. Cloud Technical College.

-$580,000 for upgrades at Southeast Technical College in Winona and Red Wing.

-$500,000 for design of future renovations at Dakota Technical College.

-$500,000 for building renovatons and additions at Inver Hills Community College.

-$400,000 toward design of a technology and health lab at Northwest Technical College's Moorhead campus.

-$300,000 for South Central Technical College projects in North Mankato and Faribault.


-$5.5 million for the Trollwood Performing Arts School in Moorhead.

-$5 million match to federal funds for a St. Paul community center in Paul and Sheila Wellstone's name.

-$1 million in library access grants.


-$3 million for miscellaneous area park, stream and prairie acquisition, protection and restoration.

-$2.7 million for the Como Park Conservatory.

-$1.5 million to acquire and restore the Seminary fen in the Assumption creek watershed in Carver County.

-$1.4 million for Warren and Hay Creek flood mitigation.

-$1 million to Crookston for dam improvements.

-$500,000 for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

-$475,000 for the Goodhue Pioneer Trail.

-$125,000 for the Red Rock rural water system.


-$5 million for the National Sports Event Center in Blaine.


-$25 million toward a new Guthrie Theater.

-$5 million for the Minneapolis Children's Theatre.


-$20 million for local road improvements statewide.

-$3.5 million for Winona harbor improvements.

-$2 million for other port development assistance.

-$1 million for greater Minnesota transit.


-$15 million toward wastewater infrastructure.

-$7.5 million in rural business development grants.

-$4 million for land acquisition and decontamination in St. Paul's Phalen Boulevard corridor.

-$2.3 million for asset preservation at Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

-$1 million for environmental cleanup of the Hennepin Paper Co. property in Little Falls.


-$6.4 million for Water and Soil Resource Board-administered projects.

-$6 million for Roseau flood recovery and mitigation efforts.

-$775,000 to construct a community dental clinic in Duluth and design work toward renovations at one in Moorhead.

-$500,000 for Minnesota Historical Society projects.

Source: House File 2, Senate research (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-05-29-03 2218EDT

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