The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 5, 2014

Update: Mankato projects make it in Senate bonding bill

Civic center, Regional Treatment Center, MSU nursing building in bill

ST. PAUL — Three major Mankato-area projects — an expansion and remodel of the Minnesota Security Hospital, an expansion to Mankato’s civic center and a clinical sciences building for Minnesota State University — were included in the Senate Democrats’ bonding proposal Monday.

A $7.5 million maintenance and renovation project at South Central College in North Mankato was left out, though its inclusion in earlier proposals leaves it in contention.

Overall, Senate Democrats would like to borrow $846 million and use $200 million in one-time cash from the surplus. About $4 billion in requests were made.

Their bill spends more on transportation ($154 million) than the governor’s proposal ($89.5 million) or the House’s ($56.3 million).

Borrowing is the primary way Minnesota repairs its bridges, Blue Earth County Engineer Al Forsberg said, and some of the Senate’s extra money would be spent there. The House proposal allocated $21.75 million but earmarked $11.75 million for a metro-area bridge, leaving just $10 million for the rest of the state.

The Senate bill includes that earmark but allocates $40 million in total, leaving the state with nearly $30 million, enough to sustain a reasonable program, according to Forsberg.

The Mankato area’s two higher education projects experienced something of a reversal since January, when the governor's proposal included SCC’s renovation but excluded MSU’s clinical sciences building.

The Senate proposal reversed the governor's version while hewing closer to the state’s internal rankings, which put the MSU project at No. 10 and SCC’s at No. 22. The Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter would receive $7.4 million for remodeling and reconstruction, including an expansion of its transition program. Security Hospital, which houses the mentally ill and dangerous, would receive $56.3 million.

Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, praised the committee’s chair, Sen. LeRoy Stumpf of Plummer, for fitting in the security hospital, calling it “like a miracle.”

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