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Pawlenty unveils trimmed down bonding plan

ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to spend $315 million less to build and repair facilities around Minnesota than legislative leaders want.

Republican Pawlenty this morning said he hopes lawmakers approve $685 million in public works spending, to be repaid by general tax dollars, while Democratic-Farmer-Labor party legislative leaders prefer spending about $1 billion.

"You have got to be willing to say, 'No,'" Pawlenty said.

Public colleges and universities would get the biggest chunk of money, 30 percent, mostly for fixing existing facilities. That is $245 million.

Helping Red River Valley communities that were flooded last year, as well as preparing for a flood diversion project, would amount to $50 million under Pawlenty's plan.

While not part of his proposal today, the governor also announced that the state has reached a deal to buy land along Vermilion Lake in northeastern Minnesota for a new state park.

Lawmakers already approved the funds, but the deal to buy land from U.S.

Steel came in above a state appraisal, which he said means the Legislature must approve the $18 million purchase price before the stay may proceed. State law limits land purchases to near an appraised amount.

Pawlenty would not say how much the state's appraisal listed as a fair selling price, but said the deal was reached for a price between what the state wanted to pay and U.S. Steel wanted.

The governor said if lawmakers do not approve his request to spend the money, U.S. Steel will begin developing the land for housing this summer.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.