Governor Mark Dayton says “time is of the essence.”
St. Paul, MN – On Wednesday Democratic Governor Mark Dayton released what he is calling a “make-up” bill, urging state lawmakers to approve $1.5 billion in bonding.
“I’m proposing today a bonding bill that should have been passed nine months ago,” said Dayton during a conference call with members of the press, “time is of the essence.”
The 2016 legislative session ended with confusion and a failed bonding bill when members were unsure whether the last-minute draft of the bill included funding for more light rail.
“The cost of not doing these projects is greater than the cost of doing them. We are behind.” Dayton repeatedly said over the course of the conference call.
Dayton claims his proposal will create just shy of 23,000 jobs, including jobs within the private sector.
Dayton’s proposal includes $11.5 million for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, $21 million in energy efficiency upgrades in Duluth, $70 million for local communities to fix their roads, $70 million for local communities to fix their bridges and $35 million in financial assistance for farmers. The bill also includes several investments in public higher education facilities, water quality projects and charitable endeavors to help Minnesotans in need. A full list of projects included in the bill can be seen here.
Dayton stressed the importance of this not affecting what he believes to be one of his biggest achievements, Minnesota’s financial health and security. The website for the bonding bill states, “Thanks to Governor Dayton’s sound fiscal management over the last six years, the State of Minnesota has a triple-A bond rating and over $3 billion in available bonding capacity for 2017-2018. The Dayton-Smith Administration’s 2017 Jobs Bill proposal would remain well within these limits – protecting the state’s financial standing, while making critical investments in our future.”
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans agrees with Dayton, saying, “We have the capacity to make this 1.5 billion dollar investment and it makes sound fiscal sense to do so.”
At the time of publication there has been no word from Republicans on whether or not they are amenable to Dayton’s bonding proposal. Dayton says he can “always anticipate roadblocks” when it comes to passing legislation by Republicans, but hopes that investments in their particular districts will help with its passage.
Dayton refused to discuss whether or not a gas tax increase to pay for further infrastructure needs is still on the table, but did say he hopes projects will get started in the Spring.