Improved Water Quality and 39,000 Jobs

January 19, 2016

Water quality is a hot topic these days. The Star Tribune reports Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a state bonding issue of $1.4 billion to pay for more than 100 public projects around the state including $220 million to improve water quality in the state, with $167 million to help cities update water treatment systems and $53 million for water protection measures.

Immediately, several leading Republican legislators labeled it too spendy. “House Republicans will be certainly looking at a smaller number than what the governor proposed” — almost definitely under $1 billion, said Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, chairman of the House Capital Investment Committee. Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie said the proposal should be cut in half.

Dayton's proposal includes renovating the 10th Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, replacing the Kellogg Boulevard Bridge over I-94 in St. Paul, and updating other publically owned facilities. Dayton's administration said fully enacting his bonding proposal would generate 39,000 jobs around the state, mostly in construction. Anticipating the kind of regional political jockeying that inevitably accompanies a bonding bill, Dayton’s team noted that 35 percent of the projects are in the Twin Cities, 35 percent are in the rest of Minnesota and 30 percent are projects of statewide impact.

Bonding bills are unique in requiring a three-fifths supermajority vote of the House and Senate, requiring bipartisan cooperation that is rare on high-profile pieces of legislation. Hefty bonding bills are generally reserved for even years, giving most legislators a hometown project or two to tout on the campaign trail a few months later.

Read Ricardo Lopez' political insights on Dayton's proposal here.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune