Dayton proposes $531 mil. for construction projects

The governor’s bonding bill would include $51.3 million for a Physics and Nanotechnology building at the University of Minnesota.

by James Nord

Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled half of a $1 billion bonding bill on Monday that includes $100 million in University of Minnesota projects and maintenance funding.

Despite DaytonâÄôs call for lawmakers to fill in the remaining $470 million in projects âÄì a self-styled âÄúunusualâÄù move âÄì Republican legislative leadership instantly shot down the proposal.

Included in DaytonâÄôs plan is $51.3 million for a roughly $80 million Physics and Nanotechnology building that the Legislature only partially funded last session, despite former Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs recommendations, and $12.5 million in bonds for laboratory mitigations along the Central Corridor light-rail line.

The plan focuses on âÄúpaint and repairâÄù projects across the state, Dayton said. For that reason, it allocates $35 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement funding to maintain buildings across the University system.

Rep. Bud Nornes, House Higher Education Committee chairman, has previously said he supports HEAPR funding in a bonding bill, but Republican leaders quickly ended any real hope of seeing one.

Bonding isnâÄôt a âÄúgift cardâÄù for the Legislature to use freely, House Majority Leader Matt Dean said. âÄúItâÄôs taxpayer dollars.âÄù

Republicans steered discussion toward solving the stateâÄôs $6.2 billion deficit and creating jobs rather than state spending that they say might not reap any benefits until years in the future.

âÄúWe need to focus on the here and now,âÄù Dean said.

But Dayton said specifically that projects that made it into the plan were evaluated for their readiness. A $1 billion bonding bill could create up to 28,500 jobs, by his estimate.