With only minutes to spare before the midnight deadline, the Minnesota Senate gave final approval to more than $400 million to support Mayo Clinic’s 20-year expansion plans.
“It’s amazing. The fact that this was written in January and is passing into law this quickly is astounding,” said House bill author Kim Norton. “This is a body that tends to think and rethink and work on things forever and we should but it really does speak to how important Mayo Clinic is to the state of Minnesota.”
The bill, which was part of a larger tax bill, passed 36 to 30 and now heads to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.
The legislative sprint to the finish came after work ground to a halt over a disagreement between House and Senate Democrats over whether to move ahead with a bare bones bonding bill that included money to restore the state Capitol building. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, had made clear he would not end the session without money for the Capitol. That met opposition from some House Democrats who feared approving the Capitol money this year would make it much more difficult to pass a larger bonding bill next year. Among them was Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester. She voted no and said this vote will make it much more difficult to win support for a bonding bill next year that includes Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center expansion.
In the end, lawmakers agreed to a $154 million bonding bill that included $109 million for the Capitol, $23 million for state Capitol parking, $20 million for flood mitigation, $19 million for the Minneapolis Veterans Home and $8 million for sewers. It enjoyed strong bipartisan support, including that of Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester.
“Small bonding bill with projects even this conservative can support just passed in the house,” Benson tweeted after the vote.