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Bonding bill still in dispute

ST. PAUL - Negotiators assigned the task of funding public works projects across Minnesota have a common problem - money.

The House and Senate don't agree on how much to spend, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty said both want to spend too much. The public works funding measure - commonly known as the bonding bill - was supposed to be wrapped up early this legislative session, but the dispute dragged on Monday when a House-Senate conference committee brought Commissioner Tom Hanson of Minnesota Management and Budget into a meeting to discuss the situation.

Hanson told committee members that bonding bills in odd-numbered years normally are only for emergency situations.

Hanson said Pawlenty would support projects such as repair work on state-owned buildings because they can start quickly. New buildings that take two years to build, Hanson added, would not be as good as producing immediate jobs, one of the bonding bill's priorities.

"Are they going to get in the ground this year?" Hanson said the governor asks.

Pawlenty wrote a letter to Langseth and Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, the leader of the House public works committee, saying that at tentative agreement to borrow $275 million would produce too big a bill.

The governor also said that more money for flood-prevention projects needs to be included. He said $50 million is needed.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

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.