The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 20, 2014

Dayton signs bonding bill; $107 million for area

MANKATO — After seven serious attempts, the Mankato civic center will finally receive its $14.5 million state funding request.

“I think I saw a sea change on attitudes generally about civic centers,” City Manager Pat Hentges said.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a construction projects bill Tuesday that includes about $107 million in projects for Blue Earth and Nicollet counties — including the civic center funding — without any line-item vetoes.

Education about civic centers in general was the first step in getting passage, Hentges said, which was followed with the Mankato-specific pitch, which emphasizes the collaboration with Minnesota State University’s hockey program.

Though initial plans included a new arena built across Riverfront Drive, the proposal that was eventually approved was limited to convention and meeting space.

“We kept on coming back to the efficiency and the multi-purpose aspect of of it,” Hentges said. “Mankato basically coined that approach.”

Construction is to begin this fall with major work starting in 2015.

Republicans voting in favor were Reps. Tony Cornish of Vernon Center and Bob Gunther of Fairmont, along with Sen. Julie Rosen of Vernon Center.

The Republican support was noteworthy only because DFL votes were all but assured; Rep. Kathy Brynaert of Mankato was the civic center’s chief booster in the House.

The governor was surrounded by DFL lawmakers Tuesday as he signed the tax, budget and construction project bills.

The bonding bill also includes $25.8 million for Minnesota State University's clinical science building, $56.3 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital, $7.4 million for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program and $2.4 million for the Rapidan Dam. All of these projects received their full request.

In all, the bill spends more than $1 billion.

The tax bill provides for another $103 million in cuts on top of earlier rollbacks this session — about a half-billion dollars in all.

Dayton has a two-week window to act on legislative bills. Other major bills remaining are legalization of medical marijuana and revocation of Minnesota Lottery online games.

The Associated Press contributed to this article


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