Neither the Minnesota House or Senate were able to find needed support for a public construction borrowing bill, but they did agree on one Rochester project.
Both failed bonding bills would have provided $11.4 million for airport runway safety improvements at Rochester International Airport.
While the session ended without a borrowing plan, work is expected to continue ahead of a planned June 12 special session.
“We’re feeling positive, feeling hopeful, that something will make it across the finish line with the airport in there,” said Heather Corcoran, the city’s legislative policy analyst.
Other proposed Rochester and Olmsted County projects saw mixed support in the original bills.
The $2 billion House bill, which failed to get needed Republican support on Saturday, included $24.5 million for projects in Olmsted County. In addition to the airport construction, it proposed $12.5 million to support enhancements at Graham Park and $600,000 to support new wastewater infrastructure in Oronoco.
The $1.4 billion Senate spending proposal more than doubled the planned spending in Olmsted County. In addition to the airport, it included $25.6 million for a new interchange at U.S. 14 and County Road 104, as well as $24 million for the Oronoco wastewater project.
Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown said disappointment in the Legislature’s failure to reach an agreement extends beyond the failure to approve funding for specific projects.
“From the Senate side, they only allocated $25 million for bridges, which is really disappointing,” said Brown, who leads the county’s legislative planning group. “The $100 million that was asked for is really a more necessary size.”
Sen. Dave Senjem, who serves as chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said work on navigating the differences between the two proposals, along with the $2.6 billion plan Gov. Tim Walz presented in January, will be done in the upcoming weeks.
“My session really hasn’t ended, so to speak,” the Rochester Republican said. “We have to continue to work on that.”
While Rochester airport funding is expected to find easy agreement, Senjem said common ground between the $600,000 the House proposed for the Oronoco wastewater project and the $24 million the Senate bill proposed will be sought.
“I do expect we are going to have to give a bit on that, and some of that will have to fall back on the citizens of Oronoco,” he said.
When it comes to other projects, Senjem said the proposed Highway 14 interchange at County Road 104 has his support.
“For me, that intersection has to come before Graham Park, just from the standpoint of a public safety issue,” he said, acknowledging his status as chairman of the Senate committee can help influence the amount of money spent locally.
Meanwhile, Olmsted County isn’t looking to the state as the sole source of potential funding for the proposed $40 million project at Highway 14 and County Road 104.
Last month, Jennifer Berquam, the county’s legislative analyst, told county commissioners federal funds could be used for the project, which would include construction of a flyover bridge to separate traffic paths at an intersection that is seeing increased traffic due to Rochester's growth.
Brown said it’s unclear whether that funding remains a possibility.
“They talk about the federal infrastructure bill, and it was pretty lively maybe three weeks or so ago, but now it’s sort of disappeared from discussion,” he said of an effort to fund projects to support job creation.