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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 20 2012

UPDATED: Minnesota House GOP bonding proposal smaller than Dayton's

ST. PAUL - Minnesota House Republicans want to borrow significantly less than Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to fund public works projects.

The GOP plan leaves out or drastically trims most city projects, such as civic centers in St. Cloud and Rochester. Among items not in the House bill is a $4.75 million request to build a wellness center in Wadena to replace facilities destroyed by a 2010 tornado.

The proposal, to be heard in a House committee Wednesday, concentrates on fixing state facilities such as college and university buildings. It also funds $30 million in road and bridge improvements, more than Dayton suggested in his bonding proposal.

An example of the differences between Dayton and House Republicans comes in a state emergency operations center, proposed for northern Ramsey County. The governor suggests $26 million for the project, while the House bill includes $2 million to get the project started.

For flood protection, Dayton included $20 million statewide. The House specifies $4.1 million for the Red River area and $300,000 for Lake Oscar in Douglas County, but does not provide as much flood-relief money.

The House would spend $35 million for the University of Minnesota to work on repairing facilities, while Dayton suggested $20 million. Both propose $20 million for repair work on Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses.

On specific MnSCU requests, the House bill includes funding for some projects that Dayton does not, including projects at Bemidji State University, Itasca Community College and Northland Community and Technical College. Both proposals would fund projects at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington, Bridgewater College in Willmar and math, technology, science and engineering work on nine campuses.

Dayton would fund a half-dozen projects that get no money in the GOP plan, including a $26 million North Hennepin Community College bioscience and health center, the most expensive MnSCU request.

The public works projects would be funded by the state selling bonds, to be repaid over up to 30 years.

Senate Republicans have not released their bonding plans, but Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, has said he expects the bill to be close to $500 million. He also is chairman of the committee that deals with public works funding.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.