In fall 2020, the Minnesota state legislature passed a record $1.9 billion infrastructure package. This spending and borrowing package helped the state repair its aging roads and improve wastewater treatment. It also took a lot to pass, given that bills of that kind require a three-fifths supermajority to pass.
Just over two years later, the legislature is trying to pass a two-bill package that would borrow the same amount, $1.9 billion. However, this package is stuck in limbo. Minnesota legislators began working on this package last year, when the GOP controlled the state Senate. It stalled out prior to the fall election, in which the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party won slim control of both houses. Now, with greater leverage, the Democrats are pushing this new bill hard.
Many have doubts that the package will make it through the House. In order to obtain the necessary three-fifths supermajority, the Democrats, who are pushing the package, need to get 11 Republicans on their side. That’s on top of the entire party backing the package, which itself isn’t a total guarantee.
Minnesota lawmakers split the infrastructure spending into two bills.
The House will convene to go over the first bill on Monday. This bill contains the bulk of the money and all of the borrowing the state would use for infrastructure projects. It would authorize $1.5 billion in public borrowing, and it needs the three-fifths supermajority to pass.
The other half of the package is a $400 million cash spending bill. This bill only needs a majority to pass in both houses, and considering the Democrats’ majority in both houses, its passing seems likely. It would provide a public spending influx for a variety of construction projects, including those that keep our roads open.
If this package falls apart in either the House or the Senate, the Democrats have a backup plan in the works. They would likely propose a large, cash-only bill that would only need a majority to pass. Without public borrowing, the Democrats could impose their will a little more thoroughly on the state. Time will tell whether they will need to take such drastic measures or not.