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Pawlenty wants to spend $685 million for 2010 public works projects

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to spend $315 million less to build and repair facilities around Minnesota than legislative leaders want.

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Republican Pawlenty this morning said he hopes lawmakers approve $685 million in public works spending, to be repaid by general tax dollars, while Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party legislative leaders prefer spending about $1 billion.

"You have got to be willing to say, 'No,'" Pawlenty said.

Public colleges and universities would get the biggest chunk of money, 30 percent, mostly for fixing existing facilities. That is $245 million.

Helping Red River Valley communities that were flooded last year, as well as preparing for a flood diversion project, would amount to $50 million under Pawlenty's plan.

While not part of his proposal today, the governor also announced that the state has reached a deal to buy land along Vermilion Lake in northeastern Minnesota for a new state park.

Lawmakers already approved the funds, but the deal to buy land from U.S. Steel came in above a state appraisal, which he said means the Legislature must approve the $18 million purchase price before the stay may proceed. State law limits land purchases to near an appraised amount.

Pawlenty would not say how much the state's appraisal listed as a fair selling price, but said the deal was reached for a price between what the state wanted to pay and U.S. Steel wanted.

The governor said if lawmakers do not approve his request to spend the money, U.S. Steel will begin developing the land for housing this summer.

While Pawlenty lists some specific projects in the proposal he released today, much of the money would go to general categories, where state agencies can decide exactly where it is spent. For instance, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would receive $50 million for repairs. Lawmakers will not approve specific projects, but MnSCU will divide it up.

In every even-numbered year, legislators give priority to funding public works projects around the state, ranging from new state buildings to repairing existing ones to buying land for parks. These projects are funded by the state selling bonds, much like taking out a loan, and repaying them over a period of years with interest.

More than $3 billion of public works requests were presented to the Pawlenty administration and legislators, and some still are coming in as the legislative session years.

In each public works bill, much of the bonding money goes to public colleges and universities.

The bonding debate in many ways is separate from the state budget debate, which also will be a key issue when legislators meet for their 2010 session beginning Feb. 4. But Pawlenty said repaying for public works project does affect the state budget, giving that as a reason he kept his proposal lower than DFL lawmakers.

House bonding Chairwoman Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, compared bonding to a family buying a house with a long-term mortgage. The projects that are to last years are repaid while they are being used. Most of the state budget, meanwhile, is spent for salaries, utilities and other needs that are not appropriate for borrowed money.

Pawlenty often opposes larger bonding bills, saying he wants to keep the state's bond payments low. He has vetoed several projects over the years. In his announcement, the governor said he could veto the entire bill instead of individual projects of lawmakers want to spend too much.

Hausman said interest payments for a $1 billion bonding will would cost the state $21.5 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $9.7 million the following year. After that, interest payments would top $20 million a year for the 20910 bonding bill.

For the next few years, interest payments would be nearly 3.5 percent of the state's budget if a $1 billion bonding bill were enacted.

The Legislature passed bonding bills in 2006 and 2008 in the $1 billion vicinity.

Pawlenty does not approve of what are known as local projects, items such as helping build a city's event center. None were in his 2010 proposal.

However, Hausman said, projects in regional centers help a large number of people and help bring jobs.

"It is in our best interest to have strong regional economies," she said

The Republican governor cited economists who say that each job created by a bonding project costs the state $100,000.

Costs are down now, Hausman said, because contractors have cut their prices just to stay in business during rough economic times. That makes this a good time to build and repair, she added.

Here is a summary of Pawlenty's proposal:

HIGHER EDUCATION - $246 million (30% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $130 million for the University of Minnesota ($100 million G.O., $30 million U of M)

o $40 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR) to maintain university facilities throughout the state.

o $53.3 million for a five-story, 155,000 square foot facility to house the University's physics and nanotechnology programs. The new facility would house a 5,000 square foot "clean room" dedicated to nanotechnology research, flexible research laboratories and student meeting space. The University will provide $26.7 million in funds for the project, which totals $80 million.

o $6.7 million to renovate research laboratories at all University of Minnesota campuses. The University will provide $3.3 million for the project, which totals $10 million.

• $114.6 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. ($93.1 million G.O., $21.5 million MnSCU)

o $50 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR), to maintain MnSCU facilities across the state.

o $15.3 million to design and construct the Academic Partnership Center for business, accounting, and hospitality programs at Normandale Community College. MnSCU would provide an additional $7.7 million for the project.

o $9.9 million to construct an addition and renovate the existing Center for Business & Technology at North Hennepin Community College, adding and upgrading technology-enabled classrooms and computer lab classrooms. MnSCU would provide an additional $4.9 million for the project.

o $8 million to construct a Health and Science Center addition at Lake Superior College. MnSCU would provide an additional $4 million for the project.

o $3.7 million to construct furnish and equip space for the Industrial Mechanical Technology Program at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. MnSCU would provide an additional $1.8 million for the project.

o $3.6 million to renovate the Allied Health Center at St. Cloud Technical College to allow for addition of an associate degree of nursing and expand the paramedicine program. MnSCU would provide an additional $1.8 million for the project.

o $3.9 million to renovate classrooms at MnSCU campuses around the state.

TRANSPORTATION - $159 million (19% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $75 million for local bridges, providing the state portion of funding to replace approximately 960 bridges during the 2010-11 construction season.

• $20 million for local roads. • $26.4 million in Trunk Highway bonding to build a maintenance facility and remodel existing district headquarters, including space for Driver and Vehicle Services in Rochester. • $15.8 million in Trunk Highway cash to build a truck station and mechanics facility in Maple Grove.

• $10 million to the Metropolitan Council to build and improve transitways identified in the Met Council's 2030 Transportation Policy Plan. Recommendation would fund $3 million for Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit and $7 million for the Southwest Corridor.

• $3.3 million in Trunk Highway cash for construction of a new truck station and vehicle maintenance facility in Little Falls.

• $3 million in Trunk Highway cash for a new bridge crew building in Maplewood.

• $2.5 million to replace state-owned railroad crossing safety devices.

• $2 million to Mn/DOT as a match for local or federal funds for pre-design, design and engineering studies for the realignment and construction of the Southern Rail Corridor around Rochester. Non-state funds of an equal amount must be secured for the funds to be available.

• $700,000 in Trunk Highway cash for design work on the Plymouth Truck Station and a vehicle storage facility in Willmar.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS - $127 million (16% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $89 million for completion of Phase II of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program facility at Moose Lake, including construction of an additional 400-bed secure residential facility.

• $10 million for security improvements at the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility.

• $10 million for Phase II of a comprehensive emergency management training facility at Camp Ripley.

• $8 million for asset preservation needs at Minnesota Correctional Facilities statewide.

• $7.4 million for implementation of the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) communications infrastructure at all ten correctional sites.

• $2 million for designing a new State Emergency Operations Center and Homeland Security and Emergency Management office, co-located with the Minnesota National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, in Arden Hills.

FLOOD MITIGATION, NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT - $114 million (14% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $50 million for flood mitigation, including significant funding for Moorhead, Clay County and other locations in the Red River Valley. This incorporates funding for the first phase of Minnesota's participation in the major, long-term flood mitigation project near Moorhead.

• $10 million to the Pollution Control Agency for closed landfills.

• $8.2 million to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for RIM and wetland replacement.

• $7.5 million for Natural Resources Asset Preservation.

• $4 million for engineering and construction to repair, reconstruct, or remove dams and respond to dam safety emergencies.

• $4 million to acquire, develop, and improve wildlife management areas and aquatic management areas across the state.

• $4 million to the Pollution Control Agency for capital assistance grants for solid waste resource recovery facilities.

• $3.5 million for state forest land reforestation.

• $3 million to acquire, develop and renovate state parks and recreation areas.

• $3 million to the Metropolitan Council for metro parks.

• $2.5 million to preserve DNR-owned facilities statewide.

• $2 million to replace water-crossing structures and upgrade forest roads within the state forest system.

• $2 million for state trail acquisition.

• $2 million for RIM Critical Habitat Match. Funds will leverage an equal amount in private donations to acquire and improve critical habitat for fish, wildlife, and native plants.

• $2 million to the Department of Natural Resources for diseased shade tree removal.

• $2 million to the Department of Natural Resources for forest stand improvement.

• $1 million for water access.

• $1 million for installation of new ground water level monitoring wells.

• $1 million for native prairie conservation and protection.

• $500,000 to acquire easements and fee title on private land primarily within state forest boundaries.

• $500,000 to conserve important natural habitats.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - $90 million (11% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $50 million to the Public Facilities Authority for drinking water and waste treatment programs.

• $25 million for the Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program, providing grants to cities, counties, and higher education institutions to assist in the development of public infrastructure to promote business expansion.

• $15 million for the Redevelopment Grant Program, which provides grants to local governments and local development agencies to reprocess obsolete or abandoned properties for future industrial, commercial and residential uses.

VETERANS AND MILITARY - $33 million (4% of total)

Funding proposals include:

• $9.9 million for asset preservation, life safety, and ADA improvements at military facilities, including armories and training/community centers, statewide.

• $9.4 million to renovate Minneapolis Veterans Home Building 17, including a 72-unit building.

• $6.5 million for asset preservation at Minnesota Veterans Homes facilities statewide.

• $5.5 million to renovate the Cedar Street National Guard Armory on the State Capitol campus.

• $1.1 million to renovate the troop support activity facility at Camp Ripley.

OTHER PROJECTS - $47 million (6% of total)

Funding proposals includes:

• $15 million to the Minnesota Zoo for continuation of its master improvement plan, including the "Heart of the Zoo" entry, Visitor Center, and Environmental Education Center projects.

• $6 million for asset preservation at the Minnesota Zoo.

• $10.7 million for Department of Administration for asset preservation and energy efficiency projects.

• $8.8 million for the Department of Human Services, including $5.8 million for demolition and redevelopment activities at the former Brainerd campus.

• $3.2 million for the Perpich Center for the Arts and the state academies for the deaf and blind.

• $3.4 million for the Minnesota Historical Society.

• $400,000 in general fund cash and $5 million in nonprofit housing bonds issued by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed rental properties and to construct or acquire and rehabilitate permanent supportive housing.

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