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Deficit darkens bonding outlook

ST. PAUL - The newly predicted budget deficit is making it unclear whether there will be a public works project bill in 2009.

Known as a bonding bill, the Minnesota Legislature normally would pass at least a modest-sized one when it meets. However, even if no new borrowing is authorized for public works projects, the state is over a self-imposed limit for loan interest payments.

The guideline does not allow more than 3 percent of the state budget to be spent on interest.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the state already is beyond its credit limit, but refused to completely rule out a bonding bill.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said a bonding bill would be good for jobs, but he stopped short of endorsing one. However, he did indicate a desire for a state bill if needed to match federal funds to build projects in Minnesota.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.