Projects Cut From Bonding Bill Will Miss Out on Millions of Dollars

Updated: 05/20/2013 9:23 PM By: Naomi Pescovitz

Early Monday morning, the Minnesota Senate passed a bonding bill that was only a fraction of the one shot down on Friday. If passed in the House, it would authorize more than $130 million in bonds for renovations at the Capitol and a new parking ramp.

The downsized bill means dozens of requests for project funding were cut, from road construction to the Minnesota Zoo.

The final version of the bill would have granted the Minnesota Zoo more than $4 million. That money would have helped fund several projects including renovating the Snow Monkey exhibit which dates back to 1978.

"Getting them out of a pit and bringing them up to eye level and really creating a state of the art exhibit for those guys is a very top priority for us," said Lee Ehmke, Director and CEO of the Minnesota Zoo.

Using bonding money from last year, the Zoo has also been working to restore "Discovery Bay." Without this round of funding, the project will likely come to a halt in November.

"At this point it looks like we'll just stop the work, we'll shut everything down, until we can go back next year with another request from the Legislature," Ehmke said.

Walker Art Center in Minneapolis requested $7 million to help with repairs in the Sculpture Garden, which celebrates its 25th birthday this summer. The money would have helped pay for a new irrigation system, new trees and plants and other restoration needs around the Garden.

"We're really grateful to the Legislature for what they did and we will be back next year. It's such an important state icon, it needs to be refurbished, and we're committed to continuing and soldiering on," said Walker Art Center Executive Director Olga Viso.

The bill had also called for funding for convention centers in Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud. More than $100 million would have gone to the University of Minnesota.