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HELENA — The House failed again Thursday to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill to authorize $100 million in bonds to pay for construction of new state buildings across the state.

"That's it," said the disheartened sponsor of House Bill 439, Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh, D-Helena. "I had enough votes to get the reconsideration (vote). I tried to get another chance to talk to folks. It would have provided 2,700 jobs."

The vote Thursday was 60-38, falling seven votes short of the 67 votes needed to pass the bonding bill. Authorizing the state to issue debt requires a two-thirds majority vote.

Hollenbaugh lost two votes from Wednesday when HB439 got 62 votes, which was a gain of five votes from the previous day.

The Helena legislator was disappointed, saying only one person ever testified against the bill at all the hearings. It enjoyed support from business, labor and education groups.

The bonds would have financed new University System buildings at campuses around the state, a new Montana Historical Society museum in Helena and a new southwestern Montana veterans' home in Silver Bow County.

With construction materials cheap and interest rates low, "this was the perfect opportunity to bond for these projects," Hollenbaugh said. "It would have provided immediate jobs and jobs well into the future. That's what I thought this session was all about."

Here are the projects that would have been funded by the state issuing $97.8 million in bonds as provided in the bill:

-- Combined state laboratories (veterinary diagnostic lab, analytical lab and wildlife lab), $6.7 million.

-- Montana Historical Society museum, $23 million.

-- Montana State University-Billings, science and instruction tech building, $14.25 million.

-- MSU, classroom renovation, $2.5 million.

-- MSU, Montana agricultural experience stations, $1 million.

-- MSU-Great Falls College of Technology, agricultural and trades building, $4 million.

-- MSU-Northern, auto tech center, $7.9 million.

-- Southwestern Montana Veterans Home, Silver Bow County, $5 million.

-- University of Montana-Missoula College of Technology, new facility, $29 million.

-- UM-Western, main hall, $4.45 million.

 

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