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Senate Democrats Propose $1.5B Public Projects Spending Bill

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota Senate Democrats proposed a massive $1.5 billion public projects spending bill on Monday.

Democrats say the measure includes hundreds of projects that will create tens of thousands of private jobs.

"This is not a Cadillac bonding bill," said Sen. Leroy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, the Chair of the Capital Investment Committee. "It's a Ford or a Chevy bonding bill. Very basic."

The list of projects includes:

  • $390 million for transportation, with $80 million for rail safety and $70 million to fix local bridges.
  • $362 million for higher education, with $67 million for a new University of Minnesota Science Building.
  • $282 million for water quality, with $80 million dollars for wastewater treatment plants.
  • $202 million for public safety, like $70 million in emergency repairs at the St. Peter Security Hospital.

House Republicans say they'll propose a public works bill that's less than half of the Senate version, about $600 million, and not before the legislature can agree on how to spend the expected $900 million budget surplus.

"House Republicans will prioritize how we allocate existing tax dollars – for transportation and tax relief – before turning to borrowing," said Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, the Chair of the House Capital Investment Committee. "I have concerns that the Senate DFL package far exceeds the amount Minnesotans have deemed financially reasonable in past bienniums."

Democrats say their projects will generate 39,000 private jobs, and are pushing back against critics who say it's too expensive.

"We're trying to provide jobs all over this state," said Sen. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada. "I think that's very important. We're looking at 39,900 jobs all over this state. This is what we leave to the future generations."

A complete list of projects proposed in the Minnesota Senate Democrats' bill can be found here.

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