“But wait, there’s more” is not just an infomercial catch phrase. It could be applied to a pair of capital investment bills which left the House March 6 with $1.9 billion in infrastructure spending and returned from the Senate Monday with $2.6 billion in funding for hundreds of projects across Minnesota.
State agencies, counties, cities, universities and nonprofits would receive funding to acquire land, build roads, upgrade trails, repair roofs and fix plumbing under the two bills amended and passed by the Senate Monday, then repassed by the House.
Sponsored by Rep. Fue Lee (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), the cash bill, HF670, received House passage on a 78-43 vote. HF669, the bonding bill, was repassed 97-35.
Members of both parties highlighted projects they were happy to see included. Rep. Liz Reyer (DFL-Eagan) said Minnesotans from all across the state can see themselves reflected in the bill. Opponents, however, say state taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing local projects like fire stations and community centers.
Funding in the bills represents an agreement among House and Senate leaders to pass a bonding bill for the first time since 2020. Taking on the bonding debt in HF669 requires a 60% supermajority – thus bipartisan support – for passage.
Legislative leaders reached a deal in the overnight hours Friday, three months after the House first passed the two bills, which authorized $1.5 billion in proceeds from bonds and $400 million in cash. The weekend agreement also calls for $300 million for nursing homes over the next four years, as spelled out in HF3342.
“But better late than never, and it’s a really good deal for all the communities across the state of Minnesota,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said at a Saturday media availability.
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What’s being funded
Spending authorized by HF669, as amended by the Senate, includes $1.3 billion from the proceeds of general obligation bonds, $219.2 million from the Transportation Fund and $224.9 million from the General Fund.
Agency funding totals in HF669 for the next biennium include:
The University of Minnesota would receive $136 million, including $92.6 million to renovate Fraser Hall into an undergraduate chemistry building and $43.35 million in asset preservation. Minnesota State would receive $134.7 million: $90 million for renovations and upgrades at 13 campuses and $44.7 million for asset preservation.
HF670 would authorize $850.7 million in General Fund spending for more than 190 projects.
There is $48.6 million going to the Department of Public Safety mostly for local fire or public safety centers, including $10 million for a regional training center in Hibbing, $6.4 million for a Lake Johanna fire station headquarters, and $4.4 million for a fire station in Dilworth.
Other specific projects include: