T-Paw's $685 million bonding bill underwhelms Democrats

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty pulled back the curtain on a new $685 million bonding bill Friday, and instantly downplayed it as a jobs-creation package despite the fact that it calls for hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects in the Twin Cities and around the state. Wouldn't want anyone to think there might be that kind of upside, he told he said at a press conference.

The proposal is likely to create another budget bone of contention between the governor and the DFL-controlled Legislature. A leading Democrat told The Associated Press her party would bring a proposal closer to $1 billion to the negotiating table. Legislators had already planned to return to St. Paul on Feb. 4 to face a $1.2 billion shortfall. And Pawlenty is now in a court battle to preserve the $2.7 billion in cuts he made unilaterally through unallotment as he seeks to portray himself nationally as a budget hawk.

Here are some highlights from Pawlenty's proposal:

Higher education -- $246 million (30% of total), including:

  • $130 million for the University of Minnesota ($100 million G.O., $30 million U of M)
  • $40 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR) to maintain university facilities throughout the state.
  • $53.3 million for a five-story, 155,000 square foot facility to house the University's physics and nanotechnology programs. The new facility would house a 5,000 square foot "clean room" dedicated to nanotechnology research, flexible research laboratories and student meeting space. The University will provide $26.7 million in funds for the project, which totals $80 million.
  • $6.7 million to renovate research laboratories at all University of Minnesota campuses. The University will provide $3.3 million for the project, which totals $10 million.
  • $114.6 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. ($93.1 million G.O., $21.5 million MnSCU)
  • $50 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR), to maintain MnSCU facilities across the state.
  • $15.3 million to design and construct the Academic Partnership Center for business, accounting, and hospitality programs at Normandale Community College. MnSCU would provide an additional $7.7 million for the project.
  • $9.9 million to construct an addition and renovate the existing Center for Business & Technology at North Hennepin Community College, adding and upgrading technology-enabled classrooms and computer lab classrooms. MnSCU would provide an additional $4.9 million for the project.
  • $8 million to construct a Health and Science Center addition at Lake Superior College. MnSCU would provide an additional $4 million for the project.
  • $3.7 million to construct furnish and equip space for the Industrial Mechanical Technology Program at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. MnSCU would provide an additional $1.8 million for the project.
  • $3.6 million to renovate the Allied Health Center at St. Cloud Technical College to allow for addition of an associate degree of nursing and expand the paramedicine program. MnSCU would provide an additional $1.8 million for the project.
  • $3.9 million to renovate classrooms at MnSCU campuses around the state.

Transportation -- $159 million (19% of total) including:

  • $75 million for local bridges, providing the state portion of funding to replace approximately 960 bridges during the 2010-11 construction season.
  • $20 million for local roads.
  • $26.4 million in Trunk Highway bonding to build a maintenance facility and remodel existing district headquarters, including space for Driver and Vehicle Services in Rochester.
  • $15.8 million in Trunk Highway cash to build a truck station and mechanics facility in Maple Grove.
  • $10 million to the Metropolitan Council to build and improve transitways identified in the Met Council's 2030 Transportation Policy Plan. Recommendation would fund $3 million for Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit and $7 million for the Southwest Corridor.
  • $3.3 million in Trunk Highway cash for construction of a new truck station and vehicle maintenance facility in Little Falls.
  • $3 million in Trunk Highway cash for a new bridge crew building in Maplewood.
  • $2.5 million to replace state-owned railroad crossing safety devices.
  • $2 million to Mn/DOT as a match for local or federal funds for pre-design, design and engineering studies for the realignment and construction of the Southern Rail Corridor around Rochester. Non-state funds of an equal amount must be secured for the funds to be available.
  • $700,000 in Trunk Highway cash for design work on the Plymouth Truck Station and a vehicle storage facility in Willmar.

Additional top-line items:

  • Public safety and correction -- $127 million (16% of total)
  • Flood mitigation, natural resources and environment -- $114 million (14% of total)
  • Economic development -- $90 million (11% of total)
  • Veterans and military -- $33 million (4% of total)
  • Other projects -- $47 million (6% of total)

The full list is here.

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