Governor Mark Dayton is proposing a $1.5 billion bonding package for state public works projects. It’s an aggressive plan in what traditionally is not a bonding year. Dayton said the bill “should have been passed nine months ago and, if it were, we’d have projects under way all over Minnesota.”
Among the highlights: $135 million for the U-of-M and state colleges and universities, plus money for a U-of-M health sciences building, an advanced sciences building at UMD, plus funding for improvements at higher education facilities in Saint Cloud, North Mankato, Winona, Fergus Falls, Bemidji and Hibbing. There’s money for rail safety projects in Moorhead and Prairie Island, $167 million for water system upgrades across Minnesota, money to finish the Lewis and Clark system in southwest Minnesota, and $70 million for improvements at the state security hospital in Saint Peter.
Among a plethora of other projects, Dayton’s proposal includes $10 million for port improvements in Duluth, Red Wing, Winona and Saint Paul. There’s $2.3 million for upgrades at the Anoka Regional Treatment Center and $1.9 million for the St. Cloud Correctional Facility.
The governor’s bonding proposal has $70 million for local road projects and a like amount for local bridges. That’s much less than Dayton has said is necessary to bring Minnesota’s transportation system up to snuff, but the governor won’t say whether he will again this year propose a gas tax increase — something Republicans strongly oppose.
Here are Gov. Dayton’s opening remarks from this morning’s conference call: