By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are a month away from the legislative session and Governor Tim Walz is in the midst of rolling out an ambitious agenda for projects and public works that Republicans are already saying is too expensive.

Every two years there is a state bonding bill for major projects — that’s money that the state borrows and pays back over time.

And this year the governor wants a record $2 billion for bonding.

The governor has proposed $276 million for affordable housing and $300 million for clean water projects. Walz went to a new homeless apartment building and then walked around in a storm sewer to make those announcements. He will make his other bonding proposals this week.

It’s an unusual rollout. By doing it a little at a time the governor hopes he can gain public support. He knows Republicans are calling for a bonding bill that will be significantly smaller.

The governor was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“The state has the capacity to leverage about $180 million to leverage $2 billion at the lowest interest rates we have ever seen at just a little over 1%, so to be able to catch back up on these projects, what is expensive is to not do them,” Walz said.

Republicans say they would like to see a bonding bill that tops out at about $1 billion.

And the governor will need some Republican votes in the legislature. Walz will need every Democrat in the House to support him and he will also need six Republicans because bonding bills to pass need a 3/5 majority in the House.

This spending argument will begin in earnest when the legislature goes into session next month. The argument will also take place against the backdrop of the 2020 election when every member of the Minnesota House and Senate is up for reelection.

On Monday,  the governor is rolling out his Higher Ed bonding proposal and on Wednesday he will make his proposal for Public Safety which includes roads and bridge projects.

Esme Murphy

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