The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 9, 2013

Dems push for bonding projects but GOP holds key votes



Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, was bothered that a $54 million plan for a Minneapolis Veterans Home redevelopment was left out. The project made it into Dayton's bill.

"We're putting money into museums, state trails, sculpture gardens, nature centers and so forth," Dettmer said. "I think our men and women who have served our country over the years deserve better."

Hausman anticipated the criticism and said she is not foreclosing on the possibility of adding veterans' home money later. But she said the Legislature needs to have a serious discussion about whether to put much of its bonding money into beefing up the Minneapolis home or parceling out money to smaller facilities around the state that can keep veterans closer to home. There is an up to year wait to get into the Minneapolis home, with almost 900 people awaiting word.

It's not the only difference between plans from the House and governor. Dayton devotes $85 million to physics lab construction at the University of Minnesota while the House bill offers only planning money for that while dedicating $47 million to the school's James Ford Bell Natural History Museum and Planetarium.

Both plans devote substantial funding to construction at the secure hospital in St. Peter that houses civilly committed sex offenders. And both would set aside $7 million for repairs to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which features the iconic cherry-in-spoon monument that often appears on visitor postcards.

By far the largest project in the House bill is a $109 million installment for a long-running renovation of the deteriorating state Capitol. The same amount is in Dayton's proposal.

Rep. Matt Dean, the lead Republican on the panel, said the bill would stand a better chance if the must-do items got split off from the nice-to-do elements.

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