The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a $1.87 billion bonding bill with bipartisan support Wednesday, Oct. 14. It then passed almost unanimously in the state senate Thursday, Oct. 15. The bonding bill is the largest in Minnesota's history.
Supporters say the bill will allocate money to small businesses, public works, schools and infrastructure, as well as provide a tax break to farmers and small business owners and temporarily increase the pay of state troopers and personal care assistants.
The House debated for nearly 10 hours before 25 Republicans and all 75 Democrats voted yes, reaching the three-fifths majority necessary to pass the bill. Two similar bills failed to pass earlier this year because they received no Republican support.
“This bonding bill is a smart investment that will create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver improvements to local projects throughout Minnesota and make our state a better place to live,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz stated. “It’s been a long journey. By finally coming together and working across the aisle, Minnesota proved once again that if Washington won’t lead — we will.”
Several House Republicans who voted against the bill said it encompassed too much, and they only supported pieces of it, not enough for them to vote yes. Republican Rep. Dan Fabian said he voted no because of how much the bill would add to the state’s spending deficit, Session Daily reported.
Republican state Rep. Jeff Backer, who represents the district Wilkin County, Minnesota, falls under, also voted against the bill because he was concerned there was no mechanism to pay for the debt the state would incur, he said. Backer did support section 179, which would allow businesses to deduct the full cost of equipment from their federal tax return.
The bill garnered support from Minnesota Farm Bureau, and their press release Thursday included gratitude, particularly for section 179.
“Section 179 is a key tool to allow farmers to invest in their businesses and in their rural communities,” Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap said. “We appreciate the bipartisan support in both chambers for this important tax tool that provides certainty in the midst of financial challenges in the ag economy. Minnesota Farm Bureau members made it clear to their legislators that this was a priority issue for farmers and ranchers across the state and we are excited to see this finally become a reality.”
Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Greg Zylka said the bill will provide much-needed pandemic relief and offer improvements to cities’ wastewater and drinking water facilities.
“It’s been a long road, but I’m glad that after five special sessions legislators in DFL-led House and Republican-led Senate were able to come together to reach a strong bipartisan agreement on the bonding bill,” Zylka said. “As our communities continue to struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, the projects funded through this bill will create thousands of much-needed jobs and boost economic recovery across the state.”