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Bonding bill breakdown

Gov. Tim Walz has been taking a different approach to his proposal for the state bonding bill that will be the main focus of this year’s session.

In the past, governors have put together their bonding proposal and presented it as a big package. Last year, Walz had a $1.27 billion bonding proposal for the budget year session. Usually bonding bills wait until the year after the budget. The Legislature didn’t get it done by the end of the session.

This year Walz has about $2 billion in bonding proposals, but he hasn’t dropped it on us all at once. Last week he proposed $276 million in bonds for affordable housing projects, focusing on the need Minnesota has for housing. A day or two later he focused on water projects, even heading down into a storm sewer to point out why he thinks the state should borrow another $300 million. On Monday he talked about his $447 million proposal to invest in facilities for the state’s colleges and universities. He is expected to complete his presentation of the final bonding bill proposal on Wednesday. No doubt transportation will be prominently mentioned.

It is an interesting approach. People care about housing. We care about clean water. We care about having excellent college and university facilities. We are certainly interested in getting more transportation funding for projects like Highway 14. Often, however, the varied goals of the bonding bill get overshadowed by the debate over the grand total.

This year will not be different. The head Republican in the Minnesota Senate, Sen. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, has indicated Republicans are more interested in a bonding package that approaches past packages that came in at under a billion.

We hope Republicans will be as thorough in presenting their proposals as the governor has been this past week.

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