Gov. Walz proposes $3.3 billion for infrastructure across Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz proposed a $3.3 billion public infrastructure package Thursday that would use a combination of borrowing and cash to finance improvements to roads, bridges, water systems, housing and the environment across Minnesota.
“The investments in our Infrastructure Plan are a down payment on the future of our state,” Walz said in a statement. “Strong infrastructure is what allows Minnesotans to live safe and healthy lives. It’s what keeps our drinking water clean, our roads and bridges safe to drive on, and our communities safe from flooding.”
The proposal, known as a bonding bill, would be the largest in state history if the Democratic governor gets everything he wants. But that appears unlikely, given that he would need at least some Republican votes in both the House and Senate to get the constitutionally required 60% supermajorities for the state to take on more debt. His fellow Democrats will get to weigh in with their favorite projects, too.
“The Governor’s request would be a huge debt service to future taxpayers, on top of billions in tax increases he already proposed this week,” Republican Sen. Karin Housley, of Stillwater, the lead Republican on the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said in a statement. “There are important needs, but we need to prioritize the most important projects over our wants. I’ll continue the conversation in the Senate, but his proposal doesn’t have bipartisan support.”
Democratic Rep. Fue Lee, of Minneapolis, who chairs the House Capital Investment Committee, said he looks forward to working with Walz and his colleagues to deliver on needed projects and jobs.
“Communities and institutions across Minnesota are in desperate need of robust capital investment — a need that only grows more expensive the longer these projects and crucial pieces of infrastructure go unaddressed,” Lee said in a statement.
A divided Legislature was unable to finish a $1.5 billion bonding bill last year, but legislative leaders have been talking about approving some of those projects quickly this session and approving a second package later on.
Walz released the rest of his proposed two-year budget Tuesday, a $65 billion plan that included rebates to more than 2.5 million taxpayers from the state’s surplus of over $17 billion, and reductions in taxes on Social Security income for more than 350,000 households. Some taxes and fees on businesses and individuals would also rise.
The proposed financing for his bonding bill includes nearly $2.2 billion in sales of bonds plus nearly $900 million in cash.
The projects include more than $650 million for roads, bridges and water systems across the state. His list also includes over $260 million apiece to repair or replace facilities in the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University systems. It includes $133 million for the Department of Natural Resources to repair recreational and other facilities.
The package also contains more than $470 million for affordable housing, as well as more than $90 million for the state-operated veterans’ homes in Hastings, Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji.
Communities across the state would get more than $520 million for local projects from community centers and libraries to fire stations.