MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota House wants a $2 billion bonding bill.

The state would borrow that money for projects ranging from $452 million for transportation, to hundreds of smaller items, like $12.8 million for improvement to northern Minnesota airports in Hibbing, Brainerd and Grand Rapids to help them fight forest fires.

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Democrats, like House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, say the bill will provide thousands of badly-needed jobs.

“There are a lot of people who are waiting and hoping to find out whether there are going to be jobs in nine months or 10 months or years,” Winkler said.

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Senate Republicans have indicated their support for a smaller bonding bill to help stimulate the state’s COVID-19-stricken economy. But a bonding bill has to originate in the Minnesota House, and three-fifths of House members must support it, and the Republican minority — led by Minority Leader Kurt Daudt — is threatening to block the bill.

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“At a time when we have a $2.5 billion deficit, to, you know, put a bill out of that size … I think is out of touch where we are right now,” Daudt said.

He says he will block any bonding bill unless Gov. Tim Walz ends the state of emergency order, and his emergency powers, which are set to expire Wednesday.

“I want to thank the governor for using the emergency powers when he did, and I think it was appropriate, and there was a time when the governor needed to act quickly,” Daudt said. “We think that time has passed.”

But House Democrats like Rep. Melissa Hortman cited a recent Survey USA/KSTP-TV poll showing the governor with an 82% approval rating for his handling of the crisis.

“The governor and his administration are doing a phenomenal job managing this emergency,” Hortman said.

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The debate over a bonding bill will continue to take place as this critical week unfolds. The state’s state of emergency and the governor’s emergency powers expire Wednesday; the state’s current stay-at-home order is set to expire Monday — the same day the Minnesota legislative session is also set to end.

Esme Murphy