Legislature pulls back bonding bill

The recalled bill included $100 million in projects for the University.

Danielle Nordine

Gov. Tim Pawlenty was poised to veto the bonding bill passed Monday by the state Legislature when House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher announced Tuesday that she was pulling the bill back, calling it a âÄúcooling-off period.âÄù Pawlenty had warned legislators before the SenateâÄôs final vote Monday night that if Democrats didnâÄôt change some of the projects and bring the cost down, he would veto the entire bill. âÄúThey intentionally did this, and now they have to clean up the mess,âÄù Pawlenty said at a press conference Tuesday. Pawlenty said he had been clear about what he needed in the bill in order to avoid a veto and that legislators âÄúignored all of our input.âÄù The recalled bill included $100 million in projects for the University of Minnesota, down from the $193.3 requested. The UniversityâÄôs funding included $23 million for renovations to Folwell Hall, $5 million for construction on the new physics and nanotechnology building and $55 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement, which is used for building and infrastructure maintenance. The rest of the funds would go to projects in Itasca and Duluth and general laboratory renovations. Senate Minority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said he had fully expected to be speaking about a veto at the press conference Tuesday, but he said DFLers were heading in the right direction by pulling back the bill. âÄúThis is what happens when you rush,âÄù Michel said. âÄúThis is what happens when you work in the dark.âÄù The governor emphasized the nearly $1 billion price tag was simply too high for the current economic situation and mentioned projects he still wanted included in the bill, including building a new treatment facility for sex offenders. He also voiced concerns that the projects were too focused on local issues rather than the state as a whole and that the bill and vote were not bipartisan but were heavily weighted toward DFLers. PawlentyâÄôs proposed recommendations for the bonding bill would put the cost at $685 million, what he has called an âÄúaffordable and responsibleâÄù amount. HeâÄôs agreed to support a bill of up to $725 million. The bill had passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 85-46 and in the Senate with a vote of 47-19. If the governor had vetoed the bill, the House would not have enough votes to override the veto, at least according to the original vote. Pawlenty said legislative leaders are trying to play âÄúpolitical Santa Claus,âÄù putting in projects and expecting him to line-item veto to bring the cost down. He said if the bill had been closer to his proposal, he might have done that, and that has happened in the past. âÄúWeâÄôre not doing that this time,âÄù Pawlenty said. -The Associated Press contributed to this report