MN Senate fails to pass bonding bill

Lawmakers now have until the May 21 to pass a bonding bill or the University will not receive state funding for its capital request.

The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2015.

Image by Bridget Bennett

The Minnesota State Capitol as seen on May 13, 2015.

by Madeline Deninger

The Minnesota State Senate failed to pass its bonding bill, which contained part of the University’s capital investment request, on a party line vote Wednesday.

After Democrats proposed a bill that exceeded the Republicans’ $825 million target, the proposal fell short by seven votes. Lawmakers have until the end of session on May 21 to pass the bonding bill. Without a vote, the University won’t receive any state funding for the proposed projects in the bill. 

The proposal allocated around $78 million to the University, as well as fully funding the Glensheen Mansion renewal, the Pillsbury Hall renewal and the Minnesota Greater Academic Renewal project. It also funded $40 million of the University’s $200 million Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement request. 

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton recommended the Legislature fully fund the University’s request and allocate an additional $60 million for facilities maintenance and a new clinical research facility on the Twin Cities campus.

Dayton’s entire proposal totaled $1.5 billion. He said the Republicans’ bonding proposal was “inadequate” in a press conference earlier this month. 

On Wednesday, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, proposed an amendment that would have matched Dayton’s $1.5 billion figure. The amendment failed on a party-line vote. 

Chair of the Senate Capital Investment committee Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, said he doesn’t anticipate another vote this session. He said the proposal’s numbers in the amendment were not realistic for the Legislature. 

“All of our money is occupied in other bills,” he said. “It just wouldn’t be possible to produce a larger bill.” 

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said Democrats would have to vote to reconsider the bill in order for the Legislature to pass a bonding bill this session. He said Republicans would not consider a $1.5 billion proposal.

“If they want to be at $1.5 billion, I believe that’s irresponsible,” he said in a press conference. “We’re never going to be there.”