ST. PAUL (KMSP) - A mix of metaphors and dueling priorities set the stage for the final three weeks of the 2016 legislature, as Senate Democrats unveiled a historic $1.5 billion bonding proposal.
Despite its enormous price tag, it’s author described it as necessary, not frivolous.
“This is not a Cadillac bonding bill. It’s a Ford or a Chevy,” said Senator Leroy Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee. “Pretty basic stuff.”
The car comparison came after last week House Republicans called any bonding bill the “dessert” of the session, to come after the “veggies” of tax relief and a transportation plan. They have yet to present any bonding proposals.
Senator Stumpf took on that metaphor, too, saying ‘’this is not the cherry on top of the dessert. This is meat and potatoes right from the get go.”
But again, House Republicans rebuffed the bonding bill. A statement from Rep. Paul Torkelson, Stumpf’s counterpart in the House said in part “House Republicans will prioritize how we allocate existing tax dollars - for transportation and tax relief - for transportation and tax relief - before turning to borrowing.”
The Senate DFL bonding proposal calls for $390 million for transportation projects, much of it for road and bridge repair and replacement. Several high profile projects are included, such as safety improvements on the a troubled portion of Highway 12, where another life was lost over the weekend.
The massive bonding bill also spends money on building repair and expansion all across the state, from state colleges to state parks. And it devotes nearly $300 million to water infrastructure, focused on crumbling sewer systems, sewage treatment plants and dams.
Governor Dayton’s own bonding proposal is very similar, coming up just a bit shorter at $1.4 billion.
The session ends May 23rd.