CHICAGO —Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is promoting a nearly $1 billion capital bonding package as a means to create more than 27,000 jobs while investing in statewide infrastructure improvements.
"My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state," Dayton said in announcing what's known as the state's "bonding bill."
The state typically passes a large capital package in the year after approving a two-year operating budget, although smaller bills are often also approved alongside the operating budget. State general obligation borrowing and housing bonding of $986 million would leverage local, federal, and private funds to support a $1.4 billion capital investment, according to the Dayton administration.
Lawmakers last year approved a $156 million program. Two years ago lawmakers approved a $566 million bonding package after Dayton asked for $750 million.
"This bill gives priority to projects that are ready to go," Dayton said in a statement Wednesday. "Many of them have been delayed for years and are crucial to revitalizing downtown business centers, modernizing" public university buildings "and classrooms, and improving parks, roads, and local infrastructure," he added.
The plan Dayton submitted Wednesday provides $104 million for local downtown and civic center projects including $37 million for the Mayo Clinic's expansion, $20 million for Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall, and $14 million for the St. Paul's Children's Museum.
Another $233 million would fund higher education projects at University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges & Universities campuses that include asset preservation efforts, renovations, infrastructure improvements and new research and laboratory facilities.
Road and bridge projects would receive about $79 million including $30 million for bridge work. Funds would also aid in the rebuilding of roads around a former ammunition plant, preparing it for redevelopment.
An additional $126 million would go to complete the ongoing renovation of the Capitol. If approved, the renovations could be completed by 2016.
"Completing the restoration will ensure the building remains functional and safe for the next 100 years," a statement from Dayton said.
The restoration includes repairs to the deteriorating building façade, and modernization of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, life-safety, security, and telecommunications systems.
The bill also provides funding for the renovation of the Minnesota Security Hospital, drinking water improvements, natural resource projects, pollution control, transit, and affordable housing assistance.
Lawmakers will take Dayton's recommendations and craft their own package. Dayton's Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party enjoys a majority in the legislature but new bonding authorization requires a three-fifths vote. Republicans called the package too ambitious in size.
The final size could depend in part on the results of the state's annual February forecast. If a projected $1 billion surplus in the current two-year budget estimated in November holds lawmakers might be more willing to spend more on infrastructure. Dayton signed a $38.3 billion two-year budget this year that used new tax revenues to end a past reliance on one-time revenues to achieve balance.
The state's $5.7 billion of general obligation bonds carry ratings in the high-double-A category.