A National Guard Armory is familiar territory for former soldier Governor Tim Walz, who visited the Rosemount outpost. The aging Armory is seeking $11 million in bonding dollars for renovations.

Local Guard officials say this place is notorious for leaks – and one look up at the ceiling, where a tile is missing due to a persistent leak, and their statements are confirmed. In many ways, the armory has outgrown its original capacity: Today, some 800 soldiers can show up for duty here, far more than the 300 it was originally designed for nearly 30 years ago.

Tim Walz National Guard

Gov. Walz served as an Army technician during his almost quarter century in the Guard. As he strolls through the armory, he sees windows that leak and black soot on air vents, and promises his fellow soldiers that “We’ll make the case, and the public needs to know what we’re asking them to invest in.”

“We love having them in our community, definitely the economic impact is there,” says Rep. John Huot (DFL-Rosemount) about the Armory.

Local lawmakers like to take tours of the projects seeking bonding money in their districts. But this year, the governor plans to handle bonding projects differently than his predecessors, and so he’s launched his own tour to see some of the projects up close. “I think it’s important we have a platform to talk to the public. These legislators are deeply engaged with their districts, as they should be, but looking across entire state at the preservation of our assets and what Minnesota should be investing in,” Walz says.

The governor says that the bonding number for state construction projects is growing because of so much deferred maintenance across the state. He proposed a $1.27 billion bonding bill last year, but it never found the supermajority necessary for passage in the Minnesota Legislature. So far this year, the state has $5.3 billion in requests, and the governor has hinted that his bill will be even bigger this year.

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With a projected $1.3 billion budget surplus, Minnesota’s economic health looks rosy. Almanac’s Mary Lahammer reports on what lawmakers would like to do with that money. Hint: There’s a difference in opinion. 

In the wake of news about the state’s budget surplus, one issue remains true: Minnesota’s infrastructure is aging, and several projects across the state could benefit from bonding money. Mary Lahammer accompanied lawmakers on a trip to southern Minnesota to learn more about the area’s needs.

As the Minnesota legislature put the finishing touches on the state’s budget earlier this year, Almanac’s David Gillette offered this illustrated essay on what did and did not make it into the budget.