The Legislature passed a bonding bill Thursday containing $1 billion in public works and construction projects, including $100 million in funds for the University of Minnesota.
The passage came after Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday he would sign the bill and use his line-item veto power to cut out certain projects to reduce the cost. He had originally planned to veto the entire bill, but yielded when the Legislature inserted projects he supports.
University provisions in the bill include: $56 million in HEAPR funds for general renovations; $23 million for renovations to Folwell Hall; $4 million to plan a new physics and nanotechnology building; and $6.6 million each for an American Indian Learning Resource Center in Duluth , a biological lab in Itasca, Minn. and system-wide laboratory renovations.
In February, Pawlenty said he planned to veto the entire bill unless the Legislature reduced the price tag and added the projects he supported, including money for an expansion of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at Moose Lake correctional facility.
At the time, the bill cost $1.125 billion. On Thursday, it cost $1.10 billion.
In floor speeches before voting on the bill, House Republicans challenged Pawlenty to heavily veto parts of the bill.
“Gov Pawlenty, I hope that you will use your line-item veto and use it very liberally,” Rep. Paul Kohls, R-Victoria , said.
Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan , said he was, “very, very disappointed” Pawlenty had decided to sign the bill at all.
“The rhetoric prior to this is that the state can’t afford it. We need to solve the budget first. We need to get jobs back in the state of Minnesota,” Buesgens said. “Let’s correct the executive branch right here and now, let’s do the right thing, let’s vote no.”
Pawlenty has not said what projects he will cut from the bill. In January, he supported fully funding the $53.3 million physics and nanotechnology building, $40 million in HEAPR funds and $6.6 million for lab renovations.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
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