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Local public works projects off the table

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have narrowly blocked Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed $150 billion public works funding bill, putting in doubt water projects and improvement projects across the state.

In this area, impacts include $680,000 for M-State in Wadena and $650,000 for the technical college in Staples.

Other funding impacts in this area include $30.7 million designated for a new wastewater treatment plant in Detroit Lakes, as well as $955,000 for improvements at M-State in Detroit Lakes.

Also in the Senate bill was $3.3 million for the planned Heartland Trail extension between Detroit Lakes and Frazee.

There was $618,000 for a new water tower in Hitterdal; $1.6 million to replace a water tower and watermains in Menahga; $9.4 million to rehabilitate water collection and treatment systems in the city of Mahnomen; and $4 million to rehab the water collection system in Pelican Rapids.

Buffalo River State park near Glyndon was slated to receive $500,000, and the DNR Fisheries in Park Rapids $125,000.

State colleges and universities wouldn't be able to make critical fixes on aging buildings.

Those were among the most critical impacts Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans listed when asked, "What if there's no bonding bill this year?"

All the projects that would have been funded in the Senate DFL's $1.5 billion bonding bill would have to be delayed for at least a year, Frans said, and "we'd never catch up" to the state's infrastructure needs.

Senate Republicans blocked the Democrats' bid to pass the largest bonding bill in state history. The measure failed on a 40-26 vote, one vote short of the three-fifths supermajority required to increase the state's debt.

All 39 DFL senators voted for the bill, but only one Republican, Sen. Carla Nelson of Rochester, supported it.

After that setback, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said, "We may end up going home this session without a bonding bill. I can't imagine a path where we get to one ... For those Republicans that want to have a do-nothing session, that just don't believe we should spend any money, they may get their way," he said.

During the Senate debate, Republicans offered a compromise of their own that would have spent nearly $1 billion.

But Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairman LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said the GOP alternative would have left out many essential projects, especially those on unsafe and congested roads and bridges.

The organizers of some of the affected projects don't believe lawmakers will go home without passing a bonding bill. They dismissed the defeat in the Senate as political posturing.

The fate of the bonding bill is linked to two other major budget issues that are top legislative priorities this session: Increasing funding for transportation and cutting taxes. So far, lawmakers have made no visible progress on any of those issues.

Rachel Stassen-Berger contributed to this article.

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