Governor Tim Walz continues his push for a “robust” bonding bill for state public works projects, with a visit this morning to a recycling center in the Saint Paul suburb of Newport. The governor proposes roughly two billion dollars in state borrowing, but Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is talking about much less — a focused bonding bill of under a billion dollars. He says, “Wastewater infrastructure across the state is really important. Roads and bridges, for making sure we have resources there, are very important.”
But Gazelka needs some Democratic votes to pass a bonding bill, and Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent says, “This is an opportunity to have an ambitious bonding bill, so I think the governor’s bill is a good ballpark, a good goal to shoot for.”
Lawmakers will try to find the combination of dollars and projects that can get enough votes to pass.
As Republicans and Democrats begin the political dance at the Minnesota Legislature to try to pass a bonding bill before the May deadline, one prominent D-F-Ler contends whatever is agreed on will still not be enough for transportation infrastructure. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent says road and bridge needs in Minnesota are “much bigger than we can do… over even multiple years of bonding.” So does that mean a gas tax increase? Kent says, “Not today. Not this session. It’s not a budget year, but we need to have serious conversations.”
Republicans say they won’t agree to a tax increase when the state has a budget surplus.