Dayton eyes $1.5B in public construction

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Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday introduced a $1.5 billion public works proposal that would make investments to build world-class colleges and universities for Minnesotans, and improve and fix state buildings and other critical infrastructure across the state, he said in a news release.

The Democratic governor released his so-called bonding bill Tuesday.

If Dayton's proposal is approved by the Legislature, Brainerd's Readiness Center would get $4.13 million in state funds.

While Republicans did not immediately react to the Dayton plan, they generally have called for substantially lower bonding bills.

"The demand for a large bill is out there, but responsibly, we have to be careful what we do".

Dayton's public works proposal prioritizes strategic investments in higher education, would improve and maintain state buildings and other infrastructure, build more affordable housing, and deliver clean, reliable, affordable drinking water for Minnesotans.

"It will be an uphill battle to secure legislative support for a proposal that spends $600 million more than we have planned for in the budget forecast", Urdahl said in a statement. Usually, bonding bills must include local projects to get enough votes to pass.

Dayton's request comes on the heels of a almost $1 billion bonding bill that lawmakers passed in May. Any bill that takes shape this year will need to follow that same blueprint.

More than a third of the $1.5 billion would be designated for state-run colleges and universities, mostly making repairs and improvement on existing buildings. Most of the money would go to restore and upgrade existing college buildings and other facilities.

The state's latest budget forecast, which projected a $188 million deficit in the current two-year budget, assumed bonding authorization this year of $800 million. These urgently-needed investments also would protect the state's long-term fiscal health.

For the most part, especially for colleges and universities, the list emphasized fix work on existing buildings.

The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State college system would be the big winners under Dayton's proposal.

"This recommendation today aligns perfectly with my vision", President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota said.

"Asset preservation is our No. 1 priority", said Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra.

He says the time is ripe to invest heavily in public constructionMINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 14: Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton speaks to Policy Fellows at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on July 14, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"All of these projects. these are timeless issues the governor has been fighting for the last seven years", Frans said.

At the U of M's Twin Cities campus, $24 million would renovate the historic Pillsbury Hall.

$16 million to improve Minnesota Sex Offender Program facilities.

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