Minn. House passes $200M bonding bill, stimulus spending bills

The Minnesota House passed a $200 million borrowing plan for public construction projects on Monday.

The vote was 93 to 40, and supporters say the repair and renovation work will create needed jobs and help boost the economy. Most of the measure is directed toward asset preservation on college campuses throughout the state. The bill also includes nearly $13 million for flood mitigation grants, but some legislators wanted more.

Republican Representative Morrie Lanning, of Moorhead, supported an unsuccessful attempt to shift bonding money from colleges to flood projects. "I hate to see us move money from one area of need to another in this bill," Lanning said. "I don't like to do that, but we have no other choice. The fact of the matter is that our need is pressing."

DFL Representative Alice Hausman of St. Paul says the bill will preserve public infrastructure and put people to work.

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"I will tell you that this is one of those bare bones, bread and butter bonding bills that takes care of the basics," Hausman said. "It focuses on both paint brush and shovel-ready projects that can be undertaken immediately."

The House bill is considerably smaller than the $329 million bonding bill passed last month by the state Senate. Governor Tim Pawlenty has said he wants a reasonable and affordable bonding bill.

Also in the House today, a pair of stimulus spending bills are headed to Gov. Tim Pawlenty after clearing the Legislature.

The House voted 120-13 for a bill funneling $107 million to state water infrastructure projects. Moments later, legislation qualifying the state for $130 million in unemployment funds passed 128-5.

Both bills won Senate approval last week. They are the second and third pieces of stimulus legislation to make it to Pawlenty's desk, after he signed authorization for nearly $600 million in transportation spending last week.

Roughly $4.6 billion is coming to the state and local governments from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The aim is to create jobs and boost the economy.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)