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Bonding bill fails to secure supermajority to pass Minnesota Senate

The measure would have needed Republicans to join Democrats to reach a 41-vote supermajority, but all GOP Senators voted against it.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A $1.5 billion public works construction bonding bill failed to pass in the Minnesota Senate on Thursday after the DFL majority was unable to secure a 41-vote supermajority to advance the measure.

The proposal included potential funding for repairing roads, bridges, water systems, parks and trails across the state of Minnesota.

All Senate Republicans voted against the bill Thursday, after GOP leaders vowed to hold off until Democrats approve tax relief from the state's multi-billion dollar budget surplus.

Democrats hold a narrow 34-33 majority in the Minnesota Senate, but the bonding measure required at least seven Republicans to cross the aisle to achieve the necessary supermajority.

In a procedural move, DFL bill sponsor Sen. Sandy Pappas voted against the measure so she could make a motion for reconsideration, allowing the bonding measure to be revived at a later time.

"After all the time and bipartisan effort that went into putting this bill together, I am disappointed that Senate Republicans have again chosen to deprive Minnesotans of the infrastructure projects they desperately need," Pappas said in a statement.

The Minnesota House passed a similar $1.9 billion infrastructure package last week with bipartisan support, as 21 Republicans joined the DFL majority to pass the bonding portion of the bill.

However, that same day, Senate Republicans held firm that tax relief would be needed to win their votes.

"How can we in good conscience go back to the taxpayers of Minnesota and say, 'Oh yeah, we have this historic surplus, almost $18 billion, but we're going to put almost $2 billion on a credit card and not give you a penny of your hard-earned dollars back?'" GOP Sen. Karin Housley said at a press conference last week.

DFL leaders in the House and Senate have suggested that if Senate Republicans were to vote down the bonding bill, they would consider paying for projects out of the surplus, leaving less money available for tax relief. 

"Our alternative is to move forward with an all-cash bill, which forces difficult decisions as to which projects we can afford to fund and cuts into the tax relief that Republicans chosen as their excuse to block a bonding bill that would bring jobs and economic development across that," Pappas said in a statement.

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