The Minnesota House has passed a $496 million bonding bill by a 99-32 vote this afternoon. The bill will fund a number of key infrastructure projects and will create a number of jobs. You can see the details of the bill here.
The fact of the matter is that this an excellent time to aggressively use our bonding capacity to upgrade our infrastructure. Why? Let’s quickly summarize the reasons:
- Interest rates remain at or near historic lows. In fact, even with Governor Dayton’s proposed $775 bonding package, our average interest expense over the life of the bonds would actually decline over the current payments.
- Minnesota’s construction industry still has lots of excess capacity, despite the economic recovery finally just starting to take hold. State and local governments have been consistently receiving bids lower than estimated for what projects have been completed in recent years. We can get good bang for the buck in the current environment.
- While bonding is additional debt, it’s the very best kind of debt. Bonding goes to projects, like new buildings and renovations at our colleges and universities, flood prevention and mitigation, roads and bridges, pollution control, and public safety. These projects are the foundation for future prosperity, and will give benefits to the state for years and decades to come.
Carver County’s House delegation of Rep. Joe Hoppe and Ernie Leidiger voted no on the proposal.
This is a disappointing vote. The bonding bill is shaping up to be one of the few highlights of this year’s session, and our representatives are on the wrong side of the issue. Hoppe and Leidiger are going to have very little to show for themselves when voters ask about what they have accomplished since the 2010 election.
[UPDATE]: The State Senate took up the bill this afternoon, passing it on a 45-22 vote. State Senator Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen also voted against the bill.
[UPDATE #2]: Reps. Hoppe and Leidiger voted against the final conference committee version of the bonding bill on Tuesday afternoon. The bill passed 97-33.