The bipartisan infrastructure bills the Minnesota Legislature hopes to pass before they adjourn Monday include dozens of east metro projects that will be funded with $1.5 billion in state borrowing and $1 billion from the historic budget surplus.
It was a deal Democrats struck Saturday with Senate Republicans whose votes are necessary for the supermajority needed for the state to borrow money. Democrats had threatened to pass a cash-only bill along party lines, but agreed to a GOP demand they spend $300 million on emergency nursing home funding.
The clock was ticking Monday when the final version of the infrastructure bills emerged and lawmakers had just hours to debate and vote on them or else they’ll need to come back for a special session. The complete list of projects can be found at www.senate.mn/omnibus.
The bills are part of the next two-year state budget that is expected to be nearly $72 billion, about 38 percent more than current $52 billion general fund spending plan, which expires in June.
Almost $320 million of the two bills will go towards renovations at the state’s colleges and universities.
The University of Minnesota will see $136 million with most of it going towards a chemistry building. Minnesota State will get $181 million for projects at 14 campuses as well as other money for general upkeep.
Ramsey County and St. Paul
The two infrastructure bills include two dozen projects in St. Paul and six others in Ramsey County. A number of the projects are grants to nonprofits for renovations or other needs.
At $25 million, fixes for the Kellogg Street bridge is the largest project. Ramsey County will get $3.2 million for water treatment, $5 million for the Bruce Vento Regional Trail and $6.2 million for the RiversEdge park.
Dakota and Washington counties
Four Dakota County projects and three Washington County were funding with various suburbs also seeing funds. The Minnesota Army National Guard Readiness Center in Rosemount will receive $25 million, $7 million for a regional public safety training ground in Lakeville and Stillwater will get a $6 million grant for downtown.
About $18 million is headed to the Minnesota Zoo for upkeep and an animal hospital.
Grants to nonprofits
The cash part of the two infrastructure bills include nearly $400 million in grants to about $70 different nonprofits for various projects and renovations.
Republicans have questioned why so much cash is going to these groups rather than state assets. Democrats have said the groups need to put up matching funds and meet other requirements to get the money.
There’s pent up need for a capital infrastructure, or bonding bill, because the Legislature last agreed on one in 2020. Since then interest rates and construction costs have shot up.