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Minnesota Legislature Weighs $1.9B Public Works Package

The Minnesota Legislature turned its attention to a $1.9 billion public infrastructure package for fixing up roads, bridges, water systems, college facilities and parks and trails.

Most individual projects in the package were unglamorous and noncontroversial, with a focus on maintaining or replacing existing but aging assets in legislative districts statewide. They were split between one piece of legislation that called for $1.5 billion in borrowing, known as a bonding bill, and another that totaled about $400 million in cash.

Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, told reporters that the two bills are “chock full of critically important infrastructure projects that will strengthen communities … all across the state, and importantly will create jobs.”

But the politics of assembling bonding bills get complicated because it usually takes a 60% supermajority in each chamber for the state to take on more long-term debt. It appeared that enough House Republicans would vote yes Monday. But leaders of the Senate GOP minority reiterated at a news conference Monday that some kind of tax relief from the state’s huge $17.5 billion budget surplus would be their price for the necessary GOP votes when the bill comes up in the Senate.

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