Gov. Dayton Eyes $975 Mil in Construction Projects for Minnesota

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said Wednesday he is considering sending lawmakers a state construction bill of $975 million, which is substantially higher than prior expectations for the state.

Dayton met privately last week with key legislators involved in assembling the public works borrowing bill. He said in a recent economic forecast, that a budget surplus gives the state more room to pay for debt on authorized projects. Originally, he only wanted a $775 million package, but with the surplus, he’s adding an addition $200 million to the budget for construction.

Lawmakers have been working with $2.4 billion worth of requests, and it could take a while to get the construction bill passed. Dayton says the ongoing Capital renovation will consume $125 million in next year’s bonding bill. The state’s prison system and sex offender treatment facilities also have steep needs that Dayton wants fixed. A fence is needed around the women’s prison and overdue upgrades are needed at several other prisons.

The Democratic Governor will submit submit his final formal proposal in January for the budget. The bill requires a three-fifths majority to pass, so majority Democrats must win over Republican votes. The specter of nearing a breaching $1 billion always proves politically difficult in gaining support, but the governor believes some of the things on the list are too important for both parties to put off any longer, and putting it all under one budget will save money in the long run.

Dayton says he wouldn’t mind scaling back one of the previously authorized projects to get some of the more important projects finished.

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