Minn. Lawmakers Square Off On Early Bonding Proposals

Updated: 04/27/2013 5:24 PM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

It's not a bonding year for lawmakers, but they are ready to do battle over some new bonding proposals. 

Some lawmakers have put out proposals that include $5-million for new facilities at Giants Ridge Golf Course in Biwabik, $5-million for public access improvements to the NorShore Theatre in Duluth and a $5-million loan forgiveness for the Xcel Energy Center. 

Some Senate Republicans see those proposals as "pork barrel" projects that benefit only a small segment of Minnesota taxpayers.

The Senate GOP says bonding, or borrowing money to be paid back by taxpayers, should be about infrastructure such as road construction, bridge repairs and water and sewer projects, for example.

Senate Democrats say the projects in Northeastern Minnesota have a tremendous impact on the region and are critical for tourism in the state which benefits all Minnesotans. Republicans say Democrats would like about $760-million in new bonding proposals.

They say the timing for such projects couldn't be worse right now economically.

Xcel Energy officials say they would like to have the $5-million loan forgiven so they can use that money on improvements at the "X", because it is now more than ten years old and could use some upgrades.