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Dayton announced $1.5 billion construction proposal

Commissioner Myron Frans of Minnesota Management and Budget announces a $1.5 billion public works proposal Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. With him is President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota. Don Davis / Forum News Service1 / 3
Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra of Minnesota State says on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, that Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding proposal would be good for his 54 campuses around the state. Don Davis / Forum News Service2 / 3
President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota says on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, that now is the time to repair buildings on campuses around the state. Don Davis / Forum News Service3 / 3

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton wants the state to fund $1.5 billion of public works projects across Minnesota and asks legislators to approve $858 million more for local projects.

More than a third of the $1.5 billion would be designated for state-run colleges and universities, mostly making repairs and improvement on existing buildings. The rest would go to improve other state buildings, construct affordable housing, upgrade clean water facilities and construct other projects in all parts of Minnesota.

Commissioner Myron Frans of Minnesota Management and Budget said about $3 billion in public works funding requests were given to the Dayton administration.

Frans filled in for the governor Tuesday, Jan. 16, in announcing the public works requests because, a Dayton spokesman said, the governor had "a bad cold."

Frans called the projects Dayon backed "urgently needed."

For the most part, especially for colleges and universities, the list emphasized repair work on existing buildings. However, both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State systems also would get major renovation and construction money from the Dayton plan.

"This recommendation today aligns perfectly with my vision," President Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota said.

Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said Minnesota State's 54 campuses in 47 communities would especially be able to improve workforce training with the funds.

While Republicans did not immediately react to the Dayton plan, they generally have called for substantially lower bonding bills. That is especially true in light of a $1 billion public works plan that passed last year.

The Legislature, which must approve public works projects, is controlled by Republicans.

Public works projects are funded by the state selling bonds, leading to the construction proposal being called a "bonding bill." Frans said that while bond interest rates are higher than a year ago, Minnesota still can get very good rates.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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