by Mike Knaak
Minnesota’s legislators ended their regular session without approving a bonding bill that included money for St. Joseph’s Community Center, but there’s still hope for money this year.
Legislators are likely to return to St. Paul on June 12 and a $2 billion bonding bill for projects throughout the state will probably be on the agenda.
Before adjournment, a House bonding bill failed to achieve the necessary three-fifths majority for approval. The bill was defeated along a party-line vote, 75-58, with Republicans voting no. It needed 81 votes to pass.
That bill included $4 million toward the estimated $16 million Community Center price tag. The remaining money would come from a capital fundraising campaign and revenue from the city’s half-cent sales tax.
The Community Center would be created by renovating and expanding the old Kennedy School. Planners see the project as a space for residents of all ages to connect. Additionally, the Jacob Wetterling Recreational Center would be part of the center as a space for young people to gather and as a resource for health and wellness. Recreational facilities could include basketball, pickleball and volleyball courts, an elevated walking track, a climbing wall and locker rooms.
House Republicans followed the threat of Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, to withhold his party’s votes unless Gov. Tim Walz relinquished the emergency powers he’s used to direct the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Daudt also criticized the cost of the bonding package while the state faces declining tax revenue and surging expenses related to the health crisis.
Leaders in the Senate, controlled by Republicans, did not link their $998-million bonding bill to the governor’s powers. The Senate bill also includes the Community Center money.
When the legislators return, both houses will need to craft and approve bonding bills that the governor will sign.