A Minnesota House package would inject $1 billion for construction projects across the state, with a large chunk going to higher education.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota House package would inject $1 billion for construction projects across the state, with a large chunk going to higher education.

The bonding bill is one of the top priorities laid out by DFL leaders this session.

"Infrastructure ultimately is that thing that keeps us economically healthy, economically competitive," said bill sponsor Rep. Alice Hausman, a St. Paul Democrat. "Certainly higher education, which is always the biggest part of the bill, is all about the future."

The proposal released Tuesday comes in two parts. One authorizes $850 million in state-backed borrowing and the other draws $125 million from a budget surplus.

The two-part strategy is unique and reflects political dynamics around so-called bonding bills.

Bills authorizing debt require Republican votes to meet the three-fifths vote requirement. The cash bill only needs a simple majority. That's why several theater projects are in the second bill.

Highlights of the bonding bill include:

  • University of Minnesota - $175 million for building renovations.
  • Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System - $139 million for building renovations.
  • Department of Natural Resources - $62 million for trails, flood mitigation and asset preservation.
  • Mankato - $14.5 million for MN State Arena and Auditorium expansion.
  • Minneapolis - $4.5 million for Nicollet Mall design.
  • Rochester - $30 million for Mayo Civic Center expansion.
  • St. Cloud - $11.5 million for River's Edge Convention Center expansion.
  • St. Paul - $14 million for Children's Museum expansion and renovation.

Rep. Hausman acknowledged the diverse geographical offerings in the bill are part of a strategy to get more lawmakers on board.

Once the House passes its proposals, they must be matched up with a competing Senate version.

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