UPDATE: Amendment adding funds to Civic Center expansion denied - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Amendment adding funds to Civic Center expansion denied

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – On Wednesday the House Capital Investment Committee met at the state Capitol to take on amendments on the bonding bill.

One of those amendments would have added more funding to the Mayo Civic Center, which is only set to receive $30 million of the $37 million requested for its expansion project. The request for more funds for the project was denied.

Representative Norton even suggested the additional $7 million needed for the project could come from funding that was given to Winona State University and the MnSCU system. The bonding bill gave WSU $20 million instead of the $5 million the university had requested.

It was heavily debated between lawmakers. Chairwoman Alice Hausman opposed the taking of funds from the project, and gained support from other lawmakers.

Representative Norton fought back and said she was disappointed, frustrated, and angry by the lack of support the Civic Center expansion has received over the past eight years.

After the meeting, Chairwoman Hausman said, "There's always a lot of tension when you present an amendment that takes from someone else for yours. Normally I would advise against that because I haven't given up on this yet." After a quick pause she added, "Here's the good thing about Representative Norton. She fought her heart out for her city today. And she explained the importance of this. And that's what we expect from a good legislator."

In the end, though, the amendment failed in a 9-12 vote and funding for the Civic Center will remain at $30 million.

Representative Norton also presented an amendment that would give additional funding to higher education and support planning for a high speed rail from Rochester to the Twin Cities. Norton said both areas were under funded in the bonding bill. "The request was for $100 million. I think Representative [Alice] Hausman's bill only has $30 million in there. I'm hoping by the end of the day we can get it up to $45 million for both universities and MnSCU, which is still far less than they should be." After discussing the proposal, that request was also denied.

On Tuesday, the House Capital Investment Committee released two proposals on how they plan to spend $975 million on public works and construction projects.  One bill would borrow $850 million, while the other would pay $125 million dollars in cash from the budget surplus.

Rep. Mike Benson, R-Rochester, said it's unlikely the proposed cash bill will win over House Republicans.

"That will pose a problem in getting full Republican support or at least get enough legislators to vote for it if they believe the process will be circumvented with an additional cash only bill," said Rep. Benson.

For Benson and others, Mayo Civic Center isn't the only project needing funding from the bill.

"My hope is when it comes back there's at least $100 million more for local roads and bridges," said Rep. Benson.

This year's bonding bill allocates money toward transportation, housing, economic development, water and waste systems and colleges and universities.  Rochester Community and Technical College will receive funding for its Plaza and Memorial Hall demolition and renovation. 

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