The state legislature last week approved a $649 million capital budget that includes the issuance of about $550 million of general obligation bonds.

Once the budget is signed into law by Gov. Arne Carlson, most of the bonds will be issued over the next two years, according to state Sen. Gene Merriam, a Democratic Farmer Labor member from Coon Rapids, who was the primary sponsor of the bonding bill in the Senate.

Carlson is expected to sign the bill this week, according to John Gunyou, the state's finance commissioner.

Merriam said that the budget includes about $115 million of bonding for environmental projects, including restoration of wetlands, rehabilitation of state parks, and improvement of wildlife habitats.

The capital budget also includes $73 million of bonds for the development and renovation of prisons, $38.7 million of bonds for human services needs, $33 million for technical colleges, $28 million for community colleges, $42 million for state universities, $45 million for transportation purposes, and $67 million for the University of Minnesota.

Peter Sausen, assistant commissioner for debt management for Minnesota, said that some of the bonds could be issued as soon as this summer.

Sausen and Merriam said the state is committed to consider capital budgets in the even years of a biennium to give state lawmakers more time in the odd years to consider other legislative matters, including passage of the biennial budget.

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