Bill calls for $4.7M for Riverland campus

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The more than $850 million construction bill unveiled Tuesday in the House Capital Investment Committee includes funding for five potential area projects, including $4.7 million for Albert Lea’s Riverland Community College campus.

The new proposal would also pay for civic center renovations, college science labs, a State Capitol fix-up and museum and trail projects around the state. It clocks in at $858 million worth of construction, about $800 million of which would require state borrowing.

House Capital Investment Committee Chairwoman Alice Hausman said she fashioned a large plan to take advantage of low interest rates and stretch taxpayer dollars further.

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“It completes projects that have been in the queue for far too long,” she said.

It is slightly larger than the bonding bill announced Monday by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and differs in the mix of what gets funded.

Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, conceded that she devised her bill with the need to find at least eight Republican votes for the supermajority required for passage. Democrats have a 73-61 House majority, but issuing state debt requires 81 House votes.

In the Albert Lea area specifically, the bill includes funding for the following:

• $3 million for the main building at the Albert Lea Riverland Community College campus and for demolition of the Gateway Building.

• $1.7 million in higher education asset preservation and repairs funding to make improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the Riverland campus.

• $1.5 million toward the cleanup of Fountain Lake in Albert Lea.

• $2 million for the Blazing Star Trail. (See story on Front Page.)

“Improvements at Riverland are going to benefit so many of our area students,” said District 27A Rep. Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells. “And I couldn’t be happier with the cleanup of Fountain Lake. That is a proposal I put forward earlier this session, and I think it goes a long way toward making the lake an important tourism and recreation asset for us.”

The bonding bill also makes $25 million available for clean water improvement funding for projects across the state.

This could potentially mean $850,000 for improvements near the Stables area in Albert Lea.

Savick said she supported the bonding proposal, noting it is best to do bonding when interest rates are low.

“These smart investments will help create living wage jobs and improve the local infrastructure in our communities,” she said.

The proposal is estimated to create 22,800 permanent, temporary and spin-off jobs.