Friday, March 21, 2008

Is it possible for metro DFLers to represent St. Cloud? 

If you've read here for awhile, you know I'm not a very big fan of JOBZ. That said, St. Cloud area business leaders assert that it has saved 970 jobs in the area and added about 610 more jobs. That's not a huge surprise, as Central Minnesota is the fastest growing area for jobs outstate. Some wonder, with good reason in my opinion, whether the jobs they say they have saved.

Smaller towns complain that St. Cloud and Rochester don't need it. That's a bad deal for those two Cities, since the metro-area legislators don't like it. It's thus no wonder that the House DFL plan for closing the budget deficit throws JOBZ (and Q-Comp) on the pyre. That they are both initiatives of Governor Pawlenty just makes it all the better. The smaller cities in outstate are going to complain, but if there's enough cover for killing JOBZ, it will happen.

So it is interesting that while Reps. Gottwalt and Haws are trying to protect JOBZ for the benefit of St. Cloud according to radio reports -- Haws asking for revisions to improve efficiency, but no indication of using it as a funding source for deficit reduction or supporting other spending -- Sen. Tarryl Clark is disagreeing with the Governor's budgetary choices, without mention of how she would pay for this. Is she therefore siding with the metro DFL in axing a program that doesn't help Metro? If so, whose interests is she representing? She may be cheering the Husky fans with handouts of the renovated National Hockey Center, but she doesn't seem to say anything about how that is to be paid.

If she would like to take a stand to say JOBZ should be axed, or should be amended as Rep. Haws has, that's one thing. Killing the program, though, seems to go against the interests of the St. Cloud area.

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