Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, DFL-Minn., proposed a $2.59 billion bonding package for Minnesota in 2020 on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
These funds would go toward investing in projects improving public safety, housing, water quality, higher education and other needs through the state.
Gov. Walz would use $2.028 billion in general-obligation bonds (GO) to fund that work along with $571 million in financing, including general fund cash, bringing the Local Jobs and Projects Plan to $2.599 billion.
According to Investopedia, a GO is a municipal bond financed by the credit and taxing power of the issuing jurisdiction rather than the revenue from a given project. GO’s are issued with the intention that the municipality (Minnesota) will be able to repay its debt obligation through taxation or revenue from projects.
The governor released his request for the upcoming legislative session which will begin Tuesday, Feb. 11. He emphasized that attention should be focused on the need of the projects rather than the total cost.
“We had a record number of requests for state assistance from communities across Minnesota, which is why we took the step of visiting these projects ourselves and getting feedback directly from communities and Minnesotans on what was most important to them,” Walz said. “That’s why this plan looks different than any plan before it – it’s Minnesota’s plan, and these are Minnesota’s projects. The need is real, interest rates are low and the best time to fix a leaky roof isn’t after your house has flooded. The time to act is now.”
The “Local Jobs and Projects Plan” funds would be assigned as follows:
• Public safety and asset preservation — $857 million
• Quality of life — $675 million
• Higher education — $447 million
• Water quality and infrastructure — $293 million
• Safe and affordable housing — $276 million
The public safety and asset preservation package includes funding for armories, police stations, fire departments, aging facilities, and local roads and bridges.
“As governor, my top priority is keeping the people of Minnesota safe,” Walz said. “This proposal will make sure that our emergency services, as well as aging roads and bridges, are repaired and upgraded so Minnesotans can have peace of mind in their day to day lives.”
The quality of life package would invest in projects that help communities develop and succeed, Walz’s office stated. Funding would provide low-interest loans to farmers, community renovations and build local transit and recreational paths.
The higher education package focuses on investing in maintaining campuses, upgrading outdated facilities, modernizing the student workforce to better serve the students and build a stronger future workforce. The package will support schools from two-year technical programs to four-year universities.
The water quality and infrastructure package would prioritize investments in aging infrastructure and upgrade water treatment facilities to protect public health, the environment, and the economy of local communities.
“Every Minnesotan deserves access to clean, safe water,” Walz said. “Yet aging infrastructure threatens the safety of our drinking, the vitality of local communities and the quality of the lakes and rivers we treasure as Minnesotans. The investment will allow communities across the state to repair infrastructure, prepare for severe weather events, clean up existing water contamination and upgrade facilities to prevent pollution from happening in the first place.”
The safe and affordable housing package will preserve existing affordable housing options while additionally creating new homes. According to the governor’s office, this funding will allow for a full range of housing choices. The housing choices include senior housing, family housing, veteran housing, homeownership opportunities and supportive housing for the homeless.
“Every Minnesotan deserves a place to call home,” Flanagan said. “This proposal represents a historic investment in safe and affordable housing options in communities across the state.”
Gov. Walz will need a three-fifths majority in the legislature to support his bonding bill and begin implementing these packages. In 2019, his $1.27 billion bonding proposal did not have enough support to pass through the legislature.
Sessions Daily reported that it appears both Republicans and Democrats agree a bonding bill should be the centerpiece of the 2020 legislation session. However, the cost of this proposal is expected to be an issue that may stop the bill from passing.
According to Wilkin County Auditor-Treasurer Janelle Krump, the county currently does not have any projects they are seeking funding for.
Daily News will continue coverage of this proposal during the upcoming legislative session.