By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Governor Tim Walz is calling for spending a record $2.5 billion in spending on state projects.

Two Billion of that is money the state would have to borrow and pay back.

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The Governor wants to spend $857 million on public safety infrastructure. And another $675 million for a quality of life package for projects like town halls, libraries, trails and transit.

It’s spending battle we are going to be hearing an awful lot about in the upcoming legislative session.

There is a $1.3 billion surplus and another $2.4 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.

Governor Tim Walz has rolled out his proposed spending plans by appearing at a low income housing building, marching through a storm sewer, visiting an overcrowded nursing school, and talking to reporters at the outdated State Emergency center.

Walz is calling for $30 million for a new state Emergency Services center.

“These facilities are cramped are not adequately secure and one of the big problems across the state we have is they lack redundancy of power and communication,” Walz said.

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On the list of thousands of local and state projects, the governor is proposing $4 million for a new police station building in Crystal and $10 million for a new regional fire department facility in Virginia.

Statewide, he’s asking for $110 million for safer railroad crossings, and $112 million for local bridge repairs.

A state bonding bill comes along every two years. And the arguments have been so bitter in some years, the sides just give up, leaving all that money unspent and projects not funded. But that possibility seems remote this year.

With the entire Minnesota legislature up for election, legislators of both parties are lobbying for key projects in their districts.

And the argument that with low interest rates this is the year to borrow has some bi-partisan support.

“This is a plan through good fiscal management that Minnesota is in a position to deliver on,” Walz said.

But Republicans have made it very clear they want half as much spent on projects as the Governor – about one billion dollars, not two.

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That spending debate is likely to dominate the legislative session which begins February 11th.

Esme Murphy