The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 14, 2014

DFL bonding bill heads to vote

ST. PAUL — Democrats from the House and Senate released a bonding bill compromise Wednesday that included the Mankato area’s largest projects, including those for the civic center, Minnesota State University and the Regional Treatment Center.

They intend to hold a vote Thursday in the House, though it’s unclear if Republicans will support it.

Democratic leaders, though, say the bill satisfies the deal set before session that limited bonding to $846 million.

“In my mind there’s simply no reason not to honor the agreement, and I view (House Minority Leader) Kurt Daudt as a man of his word,” House Speaker Paul Thissen said.

The bill includes $14.5 million for Mankato’s civic center and fully funds two St. Peter projects: $56.3 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital and $7.41 million for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

The civic center funding may lead to Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges shaving his head, and then again it may not. That tale started May 7, when Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said on Twitter that Hentges “vowed to shave his head” if the civic center is funded.

“Hope to see a bald Pat soon!” she wrote.

Hentges said he thought it was only a joke, though he’s taken the development in stride.

“I mean, I’m not worried about it,” he said. “Apparently, I stuck my foot in my mouth. If I do it, it’ll be for a good cause.”

The bonding bill is a mixed-bag for local higher education; the bill doesn’t include the $7.47 million South Central College renovations and maintenance work, though it does include $25.8 million for a clinical sciences building at Minnesota State University.

Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, sits on the bonding committee but said Democrats hadn’t shared the bill with him before it was released to the public Wednesday.

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