Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Aaron Brown on the 2008 Bonding Bill released by Pawlenty

This is taken by permission from Aaron Brown's blog at http://www.minnesotabrown.blogspot.com/.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty released his proposal for the 2008 bonding bill in the Minnesota State Legislature. (See MPR's coverage). This is the plan he would like to see pass, though he will be working with a DFL House and Senate that will have different priorities for borrowing and spending.

Two encouraging things for northern Minnesota: 1) He includes $30 infrastructure for the proposed Essar Global/Minnesota Steel mill near Nashwauk, and 2) there is money for Duluth's DECC expansion. I don't normally get involved in Duluth's DECC issues, but they've been trying so long I kind of feel like they should get some sympathy. Ru-dy! Ru-dy!
Itasca County and the DFL Iron Range delegation want more than twice as much money as Pawlenty proposes for the steel mill infrastructure, so there will be some bartering on that issue. I need to see exactly how the money is going to be applied to roads, rails and sewers before I say who has the more accurate proposal. The fact that there is any money at all from this governor is encouraging.

Meantime, lots of haggling will occur over the transportation funding for bridge and road repairs and mass transit in the metro area. That's an area that could absorb most of the bonding bill if legislators vote on regional lines.

Stay tuned ...

more on the bonding front...
If you don't like reading about steel or bonding bills, sorry, today's not your day.

As expected, Range leaders came out today stating that Pawlenty's amount proposed for the proposed Nashwauk steel mill was too low. What I didn't realize earlier was that more than 2/3 of his proposal involves money from the 21st Century Minerals Fund or other permanent mining funds, not actual bonding. This project is about mining, but also about value added mining with the addition of a steelmaking operation. I think there's a good argument that such a transition in the steel industry would be worth a more substantial bonding investment by the state. There is going to be heavy negotiations on this issue before the final bill comes out, but it seems something will come together ... so long as the company is fully with the program (as of now, this is unknown).

-see more from Aaron Brown on his blog.

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