Rep. Paul Anderson, who authored the legislation including Central Square in the “cash” portion of the bonding bill, spoke to fellow House members of the Capital Improvement committee when they visited Central Square in 2021.

Rep. Paul Anderson authored the $4M funding legislation

By Tim Douglass

The Minnesota House last week provided broad, bipartisan approval of legislation including $4 million to complete a rehabilitation of Central Square in Glenwood.

 Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, authored legislation to provide the Glenwood project’s funding. It ultimately was included in a larger package of infrastructure funding using cash from the state’s $17.5 billion surplus. In total, the bill (H.F. 670) appropriates approximately $392 million from the general fund.

 “Central Square is literally the cultural center for Glenwood and Pope counties,” Anderson said. “It plays a key role in bringing top quality programming and events to the area.  The building itself is old and needs significant renovation.  I’ve worked with Central Square board members and staff for over two years to secure this funding for Central Square and I’m glad the House included it in this package.  Now, we just need to get it approved in the Senate.”

 The bill passed 98-36 in the House. It now is in the hands of the Senate, which could approve it as-is and send it to the governor for enactment. Any amended language added by the Senate would result in a joint House-Senate conference committee working to prepare the bill final passage.

“We are thrilled the bonding bill passed in the House. Its passage marks an important milestone for Central Square and helps pave the way for the vital repairs our building desperately needs ” said Marie Chan, the recently appointed executive director of Central Square. “Over the past few years, there has been an immense amount of work done by a dedicated group of people to get us to this point, it’s humbling to be in a position to speak on their behalf. It wasn’t easy to get here. Now we wait and hope that the Senate approves it, as well.” 

“The state bonding bill’s approval by the House is a significant step toward the restoration and repair of our facilities, ensuring that we can continue to provide our community with the cultural experiences they deserve,” Central Square board member Larry Zavadil said last week. “This funding is critical to the long-term success of Central Square and will enable us to maintain and improve our historic building, creating a space that is accessible and welcoming to all.”

In addition to the cash bill, the House on Monday also approved a bonding bill (H.F. 669) featuring $1.5 billion for infrastructure work throughout the state. A three-fifths super majority is required for bonding bills to pass the House and Monday’s proposal easily surpassed the 81-vote threshold, 91-43. That bill also awaits action in the Senate.

This would be the first bonding bill in two years if it makes it to the governor’s desk.

Typically, bonding bills come later in the legislative session, but lawmakers want to make sure this gets done after it failed to pass last year.

Gov. Tim Walz initially proposed $3.3 billion for infrastructure spending in late January but the current package is smaller, coming in at $1.9 billion.

The bill contains nearly $250 million that would go toward road and bridge improvements.

Another $300 million would help state colleges and universities — with more than $132 million going to the University of Minnesota.

About $180 million would be allocated toward natural resources and around $140 million would be set aside for employment and economic development.

The spending packages would also include some funds from the state’s budget surplus to help communities across the state, including Glenwood’s Central Square.