BEMIDJI - Lakeland Public Television is two for two. Its request for $3 million in state funding has now been recommended by both Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the House.
The House, led by Republicans, made public Tuesday its proposed $280 million bonding bill. The bill is nearly $500 million smaller than that proposed by Dayton. The Senate has yet to release its bonding bill.
Local projects fared well in the House bill, which in addition to fulfilling Lakeland's request, also allocated $3.3 million to Bemidji State University to demolish Maple Hall and renovate Memorial Hall for business and accounting. Also, the Northern Minnesota Veterans Home was slated to receive $250,000 for predesign work.
"Reactions are happy," said Bill Sanford, the general manager of LPTV. "We're obviously very pleased."
Lakeland is seeking $3 million, with a $1 million local match, to construct a new building at the corner of Grant Avenue and First Street. Sanford said the project in total aims to raise $5 million, of which $550,000 has been raised.
Now located at BSU, Lakeland is requesting state bonding money for a 23,000-square-foot facility with construction beginning this summer.
Dayton's original bonding bill, released in January, did not include the Lakeland request. But two months later, his supplemental budget recommendation included the funding.
"I think Bemidji Day at the Capitol played a big role in that," Sanford said, referencing the annual Bemidji lobbying day, which this year was held Feb. 22.
Now recommended by both Dayton and the House, all that remains is the Senate and then, eventually, the negotiating committee that brings the proposed bonding bills together.
"It is a bipartisan effort," Sanford said. "I've gotten really good vibes from all our senators and representatives."
The chief author in the House was Rep. Larry Howes, who was joined by co-authors Reps. John Ward, Dave Hancock, John Persell, Alice Hausman and Morrie Lanning.
"I thank Howes for his work and helping us out with this," Sanford said. "He's been a great supporter."
The chief Senate author is Sen. John Carlson. Co-authors are Sens. Paul Gazelka, LeRoy Stumpf, Rod Skoe and Keith Langseth.
"We've just got great bipartisan support and we really appreciate that," Sanford said.
BSU fared well in the House's bonding bill, which not only included its largest request, but smaller ones as well.
A $3.3 million allocation would include $2.3 million for the demolition and abatement of Maple Hall and another $1 million for design funds to begin designing Memorial Hall for business and accounting.
"We're very pleased," said Bill Maki, vice president for finance and administration of the proposed bill.
The project was not funded by Dayton in his proposal.
"We hope the Senate views it in the same favorable manner as the House did," Maki said.
Two BSU projects are slated for funding through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Initiative that would affect nine Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. One would renovate space for psychology and another would renovate space for chemistry.
Both would cost a little more than $500,000, Maki said.
BSU also would likely see some of the $20 million approved for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement, but Maki said he hopes that figure rises to be around $50 million.
The state will often get a large return on HEAPR investments, Maki said, because they typically address deferred maintenance needs and energy efficiencies.