St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News)- A bonding bill funding $1.5 in public works projects failed to get the 60% majority required for passage in the Minnesota Senate Thursday afternoon. 

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Republicans in the DFL-controlled Senate followed through on a promise to withhold their required votes for passage until the Senate addresses a tax-relief package.  The proposal failed on a 33-32 party-line vote, falling eight votes short of passage. 

The proposal included projects for the Rochester area including a measure to not cancel/extend $11.4 million already appropriated for the Rochester International Airport, $10 million for a waste materials recovery facility for Olmsted County, as well as state funding to address housing and infrastructure needs in the Rochester and throughout the region. 

Sen. Carla Nelson. Minnesota Senate photo
Sen. Carla Nelson. Minnesota Senate photo

While saying she’s supportive of using bonding to fund Rochester-area infrastructure projects, Rochester Republican Sen. Carla Nelson said the Senate should address tax relief including ending the state's collections of income from social security benefits. She released the following statement following the vote: 

I have long been a strong advocate for the smart use of bonding for critical infrastructure projects, especially projects that will help Rochester and southeast Minnesota, like the Rochester Airport, the County Road 14/44 interchange, and others. I have voted for every bonding bill during my 15 years in the Senate, because bonding is an important tool to address critical projects. My commitment to our critical infrastructure is as strong as ever.

But with a $19 billion surplus, our first priority should be providing tax relief to Minnesotans. We need to get this tax relief out the door right away. There is no reason to delay any further; if we work together, we can get bonding and tax relief done very quickly. I hope that Senate Democrats will begin working with us in good faith moving forward.

Bolden. Minnesota Senate photographer's office
Bolden. Minnesota Senate photographer's office

Rochester DFL Sen. Liz Bolden said the tax cuts Republicans are calling for would benefit wealthy Minnesotans. She also released a statement after the vote: 

Since the last bonding bill, interest rates have only increased and public assets have only continued to deteriorate, making these projects more and more expensive and urgent,” said Sen. Boldon. “My colleagues across the aisle, including Senator Carla Nelson, cannot say they support these projects only to vote against them on the floor. I urge them to show their support when it matters, but I’m asking them to be honest to their constituents about why they chose to block today’s bill.

During the floor debate Senate Democrats pointed out they could use part of the state’s $17.5 billion budget surplus to fund the state’s infrastructures projects, which would only require a simple majority to pass. Bolton's statement cautions a public works bill funded by the surplus does not guarantee funding for the Rochester Airport or Olmsted County Waste Material Recovery Facility. 

Correction: The section concerning the bill's funding for the Rochester Airport was clarified to state the money has already been appropriated. The measure that failed Thursday was to not cancel/extend the funding. 

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