Comparing the bonding proposals

With the Minnesota Republican Senate caucus finally releasing their bonding proposal this morning, we now have all three proposals to review and evaluate.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed $775 million in general obligation bonds, Senate Republicans $462 million, and House Republicans $280 million.  House Republicans also proposed a $221 million package of bonds for renovating the State Capitol over the next four years.  $60 million of that package would be reflected in this biennium’s spending, so the total House Republican general obligation bonding spend would be $340 million.

Let’s take a look at some of the key ways these different proposals are different.

Higher Education:  The main difference between the three proposals is Gov. Dayton’s $54 million plan to turn the  Old Main Utility building on the University of Minnesota campus into a new heat and electrical plant.  Dayton and Senate Republicans also provide significant funding to many projects in the MnSCU system that the House bill does not include.

Environment:  Again, Dayton and Senate Republicans share many of the same priorities here, providing funding for flood mitigation and invasive species control that does not exist in the House bill.  Dayton also provides more funding to the Pollution Control Agency than both of the Republican caucuses.

Military Affairs and Veterans:  Dayton and Senate Republicans fund two projects (totaling $44 million) not included in the House bill — nursing care bed replacement at the VA Hospital and expansions at Camp Ripley.

Administration and State Capitol:  The House’s $60 million proposal for Capitol renovations is the key delta between the three proposals.

Human Services and Corrections:  Dayton proposes significant spending in these categories that does not exist in either of the Republican bills.  Specifically, Dayton calls for expansion and remodeling of the St. Peter Security Hospital as well as expansion of the St. Cloud prison and construction of a fence at the Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility.

Employment and Economic Development:  Dayton proposes a much broader list of local projects in this category, including renovations to Nicollet Mall and construction of a new ballpark for the St. Paul Saints.  Regional civic centers are an item to watch.  Dayton proposed expansion of renovation of facilities in Mankato, Rochester, and St. Cloud, while the Senate only included funding for Rochester and St. Cloud, while the House had none of these in their proposal.

Met Council:  Dayton proposed $25 million in funding for the SW Corridor Light Rail project, which did not make the cut of either of the Republican bills.

Bonding bills need to pass the Legislature by a 60% majority, so there is much work to be done before the end of the session to ensure passage.


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