Conventional wisdom at the Capitol held that if both houses remained in Democratic hands and Mark Dayton took the governor’s office, a large bonding bill would jumpstart the 2011 legislative session and revisit projects vetoed by Governor Pawlenty in 2010. However, with new Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the prospects for a bonding bill have become less clear.
That is not to say, however, that the legislature will not tackle a bonding bill in 2011. Newly appointed Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) stated in a Minnesota Public Radio interview that a bonding bill is “something down the line a little bit. I think that there are a lot of things to be done first,” adding that if there were a bonding bill, the focus would be on infrastructure and transportation.
So what should the course of action be for communities who may want to pursue bonding projects? Flaherty & Hood’s experience in leading bonding projects during periods of varying legislative appetites and economic climates for such bills tells us to press ahead with introducing client projects at the legislature. For one, at this early point in time, no one knows definitively what types of projects could be included in a potential bonding bill, and as such, there are few reasons for not putting a project in play early. Secondly, taking a long-term view on bonding projects helps clients in the end. Historically, bonding bills are usually finalized in the even-year of the biennium, which means achieving a successful outcome for a project is at least a two-year process.
With a long-term perspective in mind, now is the time to thoroughly educate local legislators and Capital Investment Committee chairs and members on the merits of bonding projects. Although the 2011 bonding bill may be uncertain, early groundwork may pay-off down the road.