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Ignoring Gov. Tim Pawlenty's promised veto, the Minnesota House and Senate passed a $1 billion bonding bill late Monday that ended a day of heightened confrontation between the Republican governor and DFL legislators.

Pawlenty's preemptive strike, coming in a terse letter Monday that promised to reject the bonding plan, again sizzled tensions between the governor and the DFL legislative majorities less than three weeks into the session.

"The people of Minnesota expect us to spend their tax dollars frugally and wisely. This bill does neither," wrote Pawlenty. "You chose not to negotiate with us at all."

Before the latest showdown, the governor and DFLers already were at odds over the state's $1.2 billion budget shortfall and how to fund health care for the poor.

The governor, who has been out of Minnesota since Thursday, in part to test the waters for a possible presidential campaign, accused DFLers of assembling much of the bill over the weekend "behind closed doors."

As the House and Senate began debating the legislation, which labor union officials said would create at least 21,000 jobs in a stressed economy, it was unclear what the DFL strategy will be going forward.

House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said DFLers do not have enough votes to override a veto in the House, where the bill passed 85-46, five votes shy of the tally needed to override.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, who chided Pawlenty for issuing his veto threat from a hotel room in Washington, said the veto would scuttle flood-control projects that GOP legislators want.

Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said after the 47-19 vote in the Senate that the political jockeying was not going over well with Minnesotans. "People don't trust St. Paul to get anything done anymore, and that should worry all of us," he said. "Is the Legislature building bridges and lines of communication with the governor -- and vice versa? Apparently not."

Although Pawlenty has repeatedly said the bill carries too large a price and is an exercise in misplaced priorities, the tipping point was an $89 million expansion of a sex offender treatment facility in Moose Lake. The governor wanted the project included and DFLers, after at one point including funding for it, withheld money because of worries they said they had over its spiraling growth.

DFLers and Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung traded criticisms throughout the day over what led to the latest political breakdown.

"What did he make clear? He has promised nothing," Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said of the governor's negotiating strategy. "He never came to us and said, 'If you put this in, I will support this bill.'"

Long-distance volleys

Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, the chief Senate author, went even further, taking aim at Pawlenty's out-of-state travels as legislators worked in the early morning Monday to draft the bill's final language. "For one thing, where is he? Where is he?" asked Langseth. "We were here."

"I've served with six governors -- five of them knew what negotiation was all about, and democracy was all about. This one, it's his deal or no deal," said Langseth.

The governor brushed aside attempts to focus on his travels, saying DFL leaders showed "virtually no interest in taking our concerns seriously, and the DFL majority's attitude and approach regarding the assembling of this bonding bill has been dismissive." He said excluding money for Moose Lake represented "severely misguided priorities."

The bill, totaling nearly 100 pages, would fund a long list of bricks-and-mortar projects across Minnesota: $100 million for the University of Minnesota, $3 million for a wind-turbine training facility, $3 million for a shade tree program, $16 million for Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall and $840,000 for an African-American museum in Hennepin County. Other items include $32 million for the Mayo Civic Center complex in Rochester, $4 million for the national volleyball center in Rochester, $2 million for the Casey Jones Trail and $100,000 for a police, firefighters and veterans memorial.

DFLers said the legislation was being moved quickly in the early weeks of the session to create as many jobs as soon as possible, and said an AFL-CIO analysis estimated that as many as 27,000 jobs could be created. Republicans said the figures were likely inflated and argued that fixing the budget shortfall should come before the state borrows money for construction projects.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, echoing many Republicans, said that DFLers were rushing through a series of legislative initiatives, but that "not one of them balances the budget one dime -- not one dime."

With a new $45 million facility to house sex offenders having opened in July-- and Pawlenty now wanting $89 million for another addition -- the bonding bill again put the state's treatment of sex offenders at center stage. Minnesota is among the leaders nationally in a controversial plan to use civil commitments to detain sex offenders after they serve their prison sentences. With more than 500 patients now housed in the state's facilities, and with no patient having yet been successfully treated, state officials estimate the patient population will nearly double in just seven years.

Staff writer Baird Helgeson contributed to this report. Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673