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Minn. Legislature OKs public works borrowing

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Legislature sent Gov. Mark Dayton a nearly $500 million public works borrowing bill that will allow state funds to go to needs throughout the state.

The governor is expected to sign it.

The House voted 97-33 today to agree with some changes to the bill the Senate made when members approved it 45-22 Monday.

Nearly $200 million of the proposal would go to state-run colleges and universities and Capitol building renovations would get $44 million.

Nearly $14 million is included to design and renovate Ridgewater College's Willmar administration building and instructional spaces.

The bill also includes money for flood prevention, transit, infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges and other statewide needs.

Funds would be raised by the state selling bonds and repaid over up to 30 years.

Bill author Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said he was pleased with the passage.

"I like the whole bill, the way it's put together," he said.

A number of legislators tried to add local projects to the bill during debates, but most were unsuccessful. Republicans worked to cap the spending at $496 million, while Democrats wanted to spend more.

Almost $50 million was set aside in the bill for economic development grants, so projects that were not included in the public works borrowing bill could still get some funding.

Danielle Nordine reports for Forum Communications Co.