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Dayton seeks money for Civic Center, WSU

ST. PAUL — The Mayo Civic Center expansion and a Winona State University "Education Village" are among the projects winning spots on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's $986 million list of bonding recommendations.

Dayton unveiled the list at a Capitol news conference this morning. He said they would create more than 27,000 jobs.

"My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state," Dayton said. "The bill gives priority to projects that are ready to go."

Notably, Dayton asked for no money to study the proposed Zip Rail line from the Twin Cities to Rochester or for the Chatfield Center for the Arts.

The bill asks for $37 million of the $81 million price tag of the Mayo Civic Center expansion. The city of Rochester would chip in more than $40 million with money raised from a three-percentage-point increase in the city's lodging tax that took effect this year.

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Dayton's proposal also would fund civic center projects in Mankato, St. Cloud and Duluth, as well as Nicollet Mall revitalization in Minneapolis and a Children's Museum expansion and renovation in St. Paul.

This is the eighth straight year Rochester has sought state dollars for the 188,000-square-foot Mayo Civic Center expansion. The project calls for adding high-tech convention space to the center in hopes of attracting national and international medical conferences to the city.

Dayton criticized the GOP-led legislatures in 2011 and 2012 for not backing the downtown redevelopment projects. "I was just frankly aghast that the Minnesota House and Senate were unresponsive to needs of downtown cities," he said.

Other local projects Dayton proposes to bond for include:

• At Winona State University, $5.9 million to begin work on the Education Village renovation. The plan would renovate three buildings into labs and classrooms for education programs.

• At Southeast Technical College, $1.7 million to renovate carpentry classroom space on the Red Wing campus, as well as medical lab space and welding lab space on the Winona campus.

Getting Republicans on board will be key to the passage of a bonding bill this year. Minnesota law requires a supermajority of lawmakers vote for bonding bill, meaning some Republicans have to be willing to vote "yes." Rochester Sen. Dave Senjem, the ranking Republican on the Senate Capital Investment Committee, has said Republicans probably would favor a smaller bill in the neighborhood of $800 million.

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