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Senate prepares $300 million bonding bill

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Workers will fix roofs and walls, renovate buildings and, in general, improve state facilities later this year if some key legislators' wishes come true.

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Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, on Tuesday announced he plans to push a $300 million public works bill, nearly three times what normally would be expected this year. Langseth, chairman of the Senate committee that approves public works project funding, said that his proposal would provide two advantages -- fix buildings that long have needed work and provide at least 4,000 jobs during a recession.

"It's probably going to do more than anything else," Langseth said about putting people back to work.

At least half of the money would be used for routine building repairs, including many roofs that have leaked for years. The rest would go mostly to more extensive renovations, such as old college buildings.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said that construction trades will do fine with jobs provided by federal economic stimulus money.

McClung said Pawlenty only would consider a public works funding measure -- known as a bonding bill -- if federal stimulus money sent to Minnesota requires the state to pay part of a construction project's costs.

"Gov. Pawlenty might be willing to consider a bonding bill to address matching funds for construction projects envisioned by the federal stimulus bill," McClung said.

Federal economic stimulus funds probably will not require state money to proceed, Langseth said. Despite Pawlenty's reluctance to embrace a bonding bill, the senator said the governor probably will accept one.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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