Local Projects React to Governor’s Bonding Bill Proposal

The bill would bring millions of dollars of funding to projects all across the Northland.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has proposed the largest bonding bill in the state’s history. The $1.5 billion bill would fund projects all over the state.

Several projects around the Northland have made the governor’s list. Many of them were on last year’s bonding bill as well. Some are hoping that the 2017 version of the bill passes and that it doesn’t have a similar fate as the 2016 bill.

Kris Eilers of the St. Louis River Alliance is hoping that the bill will pass this session.

“We didn’t come away empty handed last year, that’s why I’m feeling a little more optimistic,” said Eilers.

$25 million is slated to go to cleanup of the St. Louis River which is also a project that triggers a 65% federal match. If the bill doesn’t pass, there’s a chance that the match could be lost and that the state could bear the price.

“Things could change down the road and we could lose that money, so this project does need to get done,” said Eilers.

Over at UMD, they’re hoping the bill brings $28 million for a new chemistry and advanced materials science building.

“This is a project we would look at active construction right now if a bonding bill would’ve been passed last session,” said Lynne Willaims, director of marketing at UMD.

One notable not on the bill which was on it last year is the Lake Superior Zoo.

“The Lake Superior Zoo is moving forward to raise funds from private donors and other sources for the first phase of our $15 million zoo redevelopment project. While we were unsure about whether we might be included in the bonding bill—and whether we still might be included in discussions yet this year—we have committed to moving forward with the joint plan for the largest capital improvement to the zoo in a generation,” said Zoo spokesman Rob Karwath.

The bonding bill also would provide: $21 million for the conversion of the Duluth steam plant; $8 million for the Hermantown Regional Wellness Center; $7.4 million for the reconfiguration of the campus at Hibbing Community College; $6.6 million for runway construction at the Duluth International Airport; and $5.6 million for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority; as well as other projects.