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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz puts forward a $2.7 billion local projects bill

The governor said Minnesota should use its strong financial position to invest in infrastructure, refurbishing buildings and other projects around the state.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visits the fire station Thursday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Dilworth to talk about the bonding bill that could help finance its replacement.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Jan. 18, proposed a $2.7 billion local jobs and projects bill focused on refurbishing state buildings, fixing or replacing aging infrastructure and producing affordable housing.

The first-term Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said the state should take advantage of the state's strong financial position to borrow to fund dozens of projects around the state.

“We’ve got opportunities across Minnesota. These are jobs in local communities, they are geographically spread across the entire state, they focus on water infrastructure, they focus on the things that make life simply better for folks, as well as investing in the future,” Walz told reporters at a news conference at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.

Under the proposal, the state would take out $2 billion in General Obligation Bonds, $250 million in Appropriation Bonds and $276 million from the state's general fund to pay for projects around Minnesota. Some of the funding would match federal dollars set to come from the federal government as part of a bipartisan infrastructure law.

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter said the plan “is fiscally responsible, it’s within our budget guidelines, within our financial guidelines and it really helps push forward a lot of good projects and takes care of a lot of deferred maintenance that we really need to take care of."

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In addition to addressing deferred maintenance in state buildings, local communities and the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University systems, the plan proposes to fund resources for Black, Indigenous and communities of color and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In all, the state received requests from state agencies and local governments that totaled more than $5.5 billion.

Walz introduced his proposal just under two weeks before lawmakers are set to return to St. Paul for the 2022 legislative session. They'll weigh his bonding plan, along with proposals of their own, before tailoring a compromise bill in the divided Statehouse.

Three-fifths majorities in each chamber need to approve a bonding bill for it to pass, and that means that majorities in the House and Senate need to pick up minority backing to pass the bill.

Lawmakers in 2020 approved and Walz signed into law the largest bonding bill in the state's history at a total of $1.9 billion.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers who hold a majority in the House of Representatives praised the governor's proposal and said they'd push for a roughly $3.5 billion slate of projects. Republicans, who hold control of the Senate, meanwhile, said Walz's proposal was "aggressive" and higher than they'd be willing to support.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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