House DFLers propose $200 million for public worksby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Democrats in the Minnesota House have proposed a $200 million public works bill that borrows money for higher education, rail projects and flood mitigation.
Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said the bill would provide $23 million for the University of Minnesota, $55 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and $20 million to improve security at the Moose Lake Sex Offender facility.
Hausman said she focused on projects that would help get people to work right away.
"You can immediately go out and hire a roof contractor or an HVAC contractor, and doesn't require architects and preliminary design and final design," said Hausman. "The projects that we have for MnSCU are absolutely ready to go. They have done all of the design work, and are absolutely ready to break ground on the project."
Hausman said she would have liked to put additional projects on the state's credit card, but said the state's budget problems prompted House DFLers to restrain their borrowing.
Republican House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said the package borrows too much and is not needed.
"Why are we breaking the debt limit for nonemergency projects? It's supposed to be an emergency year," said Siefert. "We are drowning our kids in debt, on both the federal and state level."
Seifert says the only thing he'd like to include in a bonding bill this year would be to repair areas damaged by the flooding in northwestern Minnesota.
The bill includes nearly $13 million for flood mitigation, but that won't cover the recent flood damage.
Hausman said Gov. Pawlenty, the House, and the Senate will likely agree on a funding package for the Red River region once the extent of the damage is known.