ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Senate Democrats fell one vote short of passing a large $1.5 billion borrowing bill to fund construction projects around the state.
After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said his caucus has no interest in bringing back a smaller borrowing bill.
“For those republicans that want to have a do-nothing session who don’t believe that we should spend any money, they may get their way,” Bakk said.
The biannual borrowing plan is often called the “jobs bill” because it funds a wide range of infrastructure and safety projects around the state. This year’s Senate bill called for borrowing $15 million to improve the safety of Highway 12 in the west metro, one of the most dangerous highways in the state. It also would have paid $13 million for water damage repairs to the Minnesota Science Museum and created a critical railroad grade separation in Coon Rapids.
But Senate Republicans argued the bill was too expensive. Senator David Senjem of Rochester offered up an alternative plan as an amendment that he said borrowed a total of $992 million. Democrats voted down the amendment.
In the end only one republican, Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester, voted for the final bonding bill. It needed a three-fifths majority vote to pass and it failed on a 26-40 vote.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann called it a victory for common sense.
“The people of Minnesota want us to focus on priorities," Hann said. "We need to work on Transportation. We need to work on tax relief. We’ve done nothing on those issues."
House Speaker Kurt Daudt congratulated Senate Republicans for not passing the borrowing bill saying it was too excessive.
“This would have been twice the 10-year average for bonding," Daudt said. "It’s super excessive. And it’s not reasonable at all."
Both Daudt and Hann scoffed at Senate Majority Leader Bakk’s statement that the defeat means there could be no bonding bill this session. Both Republicans say there is still time in the two remaining weeks of the session to pass a smaller bill.
But Bakk warns of the consequences if nothing is passed.
“You now we went through this in 2004 when there wasn’t a bonding bill and there was quite a rath of the voters in the 2006 elections,” Bakk said. “The public does expect investments in public in infrastructure in the even-numbered years. There’s a long history that and I think they made a mistake, but I can’t make ‘em vote for it. We may end up going home this session without a bonding bill.”