Bonding bill fails to make it past the finish line

One of the top priorities for the GMNP this legislative session was the passage of a robust bonding bill, but the House and Senate failed to come together on an agreement before the Legislature adjourned.

A bonding bill requires a three-fifths majority to pass, which this session meant that some members of the DFL minority in the Senate and the GOP minority in the House needed to vote in favor of the bill for it pass.

The House brought a nearly $2 billion bonding bill, HF 2529, to the floor on Saturday. All the projects included in the bill can be seen in this spreadsheet. The House proposal garnered only 75 votes (it needed 81 to pass), all from DFL legislators, and therefore failed. Before the vote was taken on the bill, Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) announced that his caucus could not support a bill of this size and that he was confident a bill would get done during a June special session.

On Saturday, the Senate unveiled its bonding bill, SF 3463, which was about half the size of the House proposal, at just under $998 million. This spreadsheet shows the projects that were included in the bill.

At a press availability on Sunday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) indicated that he had been negotiating with the House and Governor on a bonding bill and that they had reached a target for the bill, which he would not disclose. Nonetheless, when the Senate debated the bonding bill on Sunday, the bill was the same version that had been unveiled the day before. Many expected the Senate would hold off on voting on the bill so that negotiations could continue among the legislative leaders, but Sen. Gazelka announced to the body that the version would be the only bonding bill that the Senate would discuss before adjournment that night.

The Senate proposal also failed, garnering only 38 votes (it needed 41 to pass). The DFL expressed concern that the bill was too small, that it failed to include more projects in DFL districts, and that it lacked enough money for asset preservation.

Today, as the smoke clears from the end of the session, leaders in both parties are of course blaming each other for killing the bonding bill while expressing hope that a bill could move forward during an anticipated special session. On call with media this morning, Sen. Gazelka hinted, but did not confirm, that he and House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) had reached an agreement on a bonding bill that will be between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion.

The GMNP will continue to monitor these developments and advocate for a large bonding bill during a special session. This comparison spreadsheet showing the Governor, House and Senate bonding proposals might offer some clues on where the bonding bill may be headed.