House Democrats are expected to unveil a nearly $1 billion construction proposal tomorrow morning.
With more than $3 billion in requests for bonding dollars, the competition for a spot in the bill will be fierce. The city of Rochester is making its eighth attempt to fund a 188,000-square-foot expansion of the Mayo Civic Center. The city is asking the state for $37 million towards the $81 million project, which would add state-of-the-art convention space to the facility.
A last-minute push is also underway for $15 million to help finish environmental study work for Zip Rail — a proposed high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities. Those dollars would be used to leverage up to $60 million in federal money. Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce's Government Affairs Director Julie Fiesel sent out a mass email on Friday urging chamber members to sign a letter being sent to Rochester lawmakers in support of Zip Rail.
Plenty of other local communities are also vying for a piece of the bonding pie. Chatfield wants $8 million for its Center for the Arts, Red Wing is seeking $4.2 million for its River Town Renaissance project and Lanesboro wants $2.2 million to repair its stone dam — just to name a few.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton released his $986 million list of bonding recommendations in January. That list included $37 million for Mayo Civic Center and $5.9 million to begin work on the Education Village project at Winona State University. Left off his list was funding for high-speed rail projects, Chatfield Center for the Arts and Red Wing River Town Renaissance. He also opted not to include $1 million request from Rochester Community and Technical College to design and relocate faculty space in conjunction with the planned demolition of Memorial and Plaza halls.
While plenty of project supporters got excited about a $1.3 billion bonding bill introduced recently by House Capital Investment Committee Chairwoman Alice Hausman, that bill represents a wish list not a reality. Hausman has said she would like to see a larger bonding bill but last year legislative leaders agreed to limit spending on bonding to $850 million.