The big push for the 2010 legislative session will be a bonding bill. Members of the House Capital Investment Co0mmitee, as part of a northern Minnesota tour this week, spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning listening to presentations involving about $30 million in area projects.
Panel chairwoman, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, told me two factors of note. One, she predicts the size of the bonding bill to be between $900 million and $1 billion. And already there are $2.6 billion in state agency requests and $619 million in local government requests. Hausman said that means that one out of four projects will probably get funded.
The second interesting factor is the longstanding debate over how large a bonding bill can be. Typically, and unofficially, the Legislature has held bonding bills to a debt service of no more than 3 percent of the state’s general fund. That may no longer be the case, Hausman said. New York bond houses are more interested in how the state manages its obligations than settling on a percentage, she said. Apparently Gov. Tim Pawlenty agrees with that assessment, and will be providing new debt service guidelines perhaps at the same time he unveils his capital bonding budget in December or January.
Key to that debate is indeed how the state manages its finances. It could face as much as a $7 billion shortfall as the next biennium opens,and that will be part of the 2010 session discussion as well. By the time the Legislature frames the next biennium budget,however, there will also be a new governor in office.
Democrats will also use the same argument in 2010 as they did for a special 2009 bonding bill — construction stimulates a slow economy and now is a good time to bid projects.
Pictured is Hausman with Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemijdi, in the foreground during a Thursday bonding presentation at the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji, which seeks $13 million state funding to build a $26 million new Science Center.
I spent most of our late summer hot spell in a local hospital twice for broken ankle surgery and to have my knee scoped out, and rehab at two different Bemidji nursing homes. I earlier blogged about one nursing home, which is a long-term nursing home trying to become also a short-term rehab facility. As I wrote, it has a long ways to go.
The second facility, Neilson Place, is on the right track. The complex operated by North Country Health Services, offers long-term and assisted living, and short-term rehab. There I wasn’t asked what funeral home I prefer, or what the date was or what city I live in, but rather just the information needed for my medical history and billing.
Developed as a social model, a "neighborhood" offered single rooms around a small dining area and kitenette where staff prepared all meals. A physical therapy gym was close by.
As for myself, my ankle and knee are coming along fine but now I painfully suffer from plantar facilitis in the same foot as the broken ankle. I was released to home Tuesday from Neilson Place and resumed work Wednesday, but very painfully walking with a cane and may have go back to a walker. I will be starting outpatient physical therapy next week.
Also, I can now sit back and see how all this mess will be billed and how much trouble I’ll have to straighten it all out.