Thursday, April 3, 2008

The conference commitee report goes to the governor

The House and Senate took up the bonding conference committee report on the floors yesterday The debate in both bodies consisted of the size of the bill, specifically the difference between the $925 million bill and the governor's recommendation at $825 million. Proponents of the bill say it would create jobs to help Minnesota’s economy. Critics call the bill veto-bait because it totals about $100 million more than the governor’s proposal, and does not adhere to the indicator traditionally used to establish a bond spending limit.

Since about 1979, 3 percent of general fund spending has been the target for general obligation bonding. The governor has said that a bill beyond that threshold would not make it past his veto pen. House and Senate democrats question the use of that indicator. Some are advocating for one used by several states that is based off a percent of personal income. They also say that the sale of bonds can be staged in such a way that spending will not exceed 3 percent in any given year. Conference committee co-chair, Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, referenced the bonding bill from last session that the governor vetoed. She said those projects now cost $40 to $50 million more this year. Co-chair, Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, called special attention to the bill's focus on higher education. We devoted significant dollars to our higher education systems’ bonding proposals, he said.

After more than three hours of debate, the House passed the bill by a vote of 90-42, and the Senate passed the bill 57-10 after only 30 minutes of debate. It now heads to the governor.

A link to the full bill can be found here.

The spreadsheet can be found here.

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