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Minnesota Senate bonding wish list: $1.5 billion

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Democratic senators want to borrow nearly $1 billion more for public works projects than House Republicans and slightly more than the governor.

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Democratic senators want to borrow nearly $1 billion more for public works projects than House Republicans and slightly more than the governor.

Even so, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Plummer, said his $1.5 billion legislation falls far short of the $5.2 billion state and local governments sought.

Stumpf, chairman of the committee recommends public works proposals, announced the plan Monday, with projects ranging from southwest Minnesota's Lewis and Clark water project to a Western Lake Superior Sanitary District heat and power project.

Senators likely will vote on the plan Thursday. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has not announced when the House public works plan will be released. He has said, however, that Republicans who control the House plan to borrow $600 million, with a "significant" amount being spent on transportation.

"How do we get our hands around the ever-growing number of assets that are not being taken care of?" Stumpf asked when he told his public works committee about the plan.

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The answer, he said, is a public works bill, to be funded by the state selling bonds, "of a fairly sizeable size."

"I describe it as a very basic bill, as Ford or Chevrolet, not a Cadillac," Stumpf said.

Much of the bill is centered on repairing existing state facilities, he said.

Stump refuted comments by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, last week that a bonding bill is "dessert."

"That is absolutely not true," Stump said.

Legislators should not be surprised to see sizable bonding bills again, he said. "It will take several years to catch up."

Stumpf, who is retiring after this session, led his committee on 18 days of tours to examine many of the projects.

Some bonding bill highlights:

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* $160 million, University of Minnesota

* $139 million, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system

* $22.2 million, education

* $125.6 million, natural resources

* $28.7 million, pollution control

* $2.5 million, water and soil resources

* $2.8 million, agriculture

* $35 million, rural finance authority

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*  $21.8 million, Minnesota Zoo

* $40.2 million, state government, including security upgrades

* $43 million, public safety

* $377 million, transportation

* $42.8 million, Metropolitan Council

* $138.1 million, human services

* $22.9 million, veterans' affairs

*  $52,3 million, prisons

* $158.3 million, Department of Employment and Economic Development

* $197.8 million, public facilities

* $30 million, historical society

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