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Walz launches two-month tour of public works projects

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Governor at podium
Gov. Tim Walz launched a statewide tour of potential bonding bill projects by visiting the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development.
Tim Pugmire

Gov. Tim Walz will spend the next two months visiting communities that have requested state government help on public construction projects.

The tour will help the DFL governor craft a bonding bill proposal that is due in January. House and Senate committees regularly conduct similar tours, but governors typically have not.

During a news conference Wednesday at the University of Minnesota, Walz said construction needs remain high after lawmakers failed to pass a large borrowing bill last session.

“The situation is still good where interest rates are low,” Walz said. “The capacity to be able to do these projects is there, and we want to go out and tell Minnesotans what their bonding tax dollars do, what we get as an impact for it and how we start to tackle this backlog that’s been there.”

Walz said he expects to recommend at least $1.27 billion in bonding, which was the size of the plan he introduced last session. He said the amount of bonding requests this year, from both state agencies and local governments, topped $5.3 billion.

“That does not even scratch the surface of what the needs are,” he said.

Walz made his remarks at the university’s Institute of Child Development, which is listed as needing $29.2 million in state help for a major expansion and renovation.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan noted that she was once a student in the building.

“We were crunched for space 20 years ago,” Flanagan said.

In total, the U of M is seeking $317.2 million in bonding assistance for various campus projects.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said a robust bonding bill would help dent a growing backlog of building projects.

“This has an impact on our academic programs, our research initiatives, our student experience and ultimately our competitiveness,” Gabel said.