2012 legislative session ends with two major jobs bills
The 2012 legislative session has officially adjourned. Before the final gavel fell, the Senate passed two very important bills that help get thousands of Minnesotans back to work by investing in construction projects throughout the state.
Since day one of session, we have been discussing the importance of passing a Capital Investment Bill. Commonly known as the “bonding bill,” capital investment is the process by which the state issues bonds to fund public projects that have a state or regional significance. This funding goes toward a variety of projects across the state including improvements to higher education buildings, roads and bridges, veterans homes and trails.
The Bonding Bill invests nearly $500 million in projects throughout Minnesota. I serve on the Senate Bonding Committee and had the opportunity to see many of the projects. I also authored two bills for our area:
• $5 million for Century College Renovations – Century College requested bonding funds for classroom addition and renovation. The college is out of space after having almost doubled in student enrollment over past years. The $5 million request will allow for the construction of 7,200 feet of new classroom space and the renovation of 7,200 feet of classroom and lab space. These additions will allow the school to better serve its students and enable the creation of new programs to meet emerging workforce needs. It will also allow for partnerships with Metropolitan State University, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and other MnSCU institutions.
• $2 million for the Tubman Regional Safety Center – We approved $2 million to design, renovate, and equip the former St. Paul’s Monastery (located in Maplewood) as a regional safety and health service center. The total cost of renovation is $7 million. The Tubman Center has already raised close to $3 million towards project costs. The Center will be used for a domestic violence shelter, legal services, youth programs, mental and chemical health services, and community education.
• For more information on projects for the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State College and University System, natural resources, the Minnesota Zoo and our transportation system, visit the Senate’s website at www.senate.mn and click on the “Budget Tracking Spreadsheet” link.
Another bill that received plenty of attention in the final days of session was the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium bill. Not only will the passage of the stadium bill keep the tradition of the Minnesota Vikings alive for years to come, it will also provide for a major construction project that will have major positive effects on the job market throughout the metro area.
The Senate also passed legislation that would make the redevelopment of the Oakdale Mall and Tanner’s Lake projects possible. The legislation, called tax increment financing, is a tax break for developers used to stimulate growth. There is no cost to the state for this bill, which allows Oakdale to pay for the redevelopment and bring jobs to the district. The legislation is now waiting for the governor’s signature.
Minnesota’s economy and job outlook are continuing to improve. Our goal this legislative session was to help add to that positive momentum. I believe these bills will do just that. Your input, a bipartisan effort and Gov. Dayton’s efforts lead to the final passage of the bills. It was a pleasure to work with everyone on these issues this session and I am grateful for their work.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.