The legislative leadership is working toward coming to an agreement on a bonding package in order to save time as the end of the 2014 session nears.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said the DFL and Republican leaders of the two chambers met Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of coming to a pre-arranged deal on borrowing to fund state infrastructure projects. House Speaker Paul Thissen said on Tuesday that he hoped to reach such a deal, and a Senate DFL spokesman said the upper chamber’s leadership would also like to do so. The House and Senate have proposed $850 million in bonding and $200 million in cash packages, though the specific projects in each bill differ. Gov. Mark Dayton has offered a $986 million borrowing plan, which is above the limit that Republicans have set for the session.
“The idea behind pre-confereeing something mainly is to save some time so we can get out of here,” Daudt said Thursday on the House floor. “I think it saves a couple of days if we don’t have to go to conference committee on the bonding bill.”
The legislative leaders plan to meet Thursday to continue discussions, Daudt said. One key project is a water pipeline in for Southwest Minnesota. The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System project has become a project Republicans have rallied around.
The pipeline, which costs roughly $70 million in total, isn’t funded in the most recent House proposal. The Senate has $13 million allocated and the governor has $20 million. “It’s literally water for southwestern Minnesota, so it’s a pretty important project and everybody has had that project in their proposals at some level — including the governor,” Daudt said. “At what level I think we’ll still determine but it’s going to be in the final bill, I’m confident in that.”
As always, proposals at the end of session are shifting. “We’ll see,” Daudt said, “It’s kind of fluid at this point.”