Monday, April 07, 2008

Rumors on bonding billBlood on the tracks 

A commenter on MDE says the governor is just announcing the bonding bill will be vetoed in toto. I should have taken the bet with Michael on the air Saturday, dang it!

Now the question is: Will the DFL try to override (which I'm told will fail in the House, but I've heard that before)? If they fail to override, will they offer a second bill? Will Keith Langseth pay a price for his $925-or-bust strategy?

Should make for more good show material!

UPDATE: I had heard the rumor he might cut down more than the $825 million limit, but my God!
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has signed a borrow-to-build plan after cutting out projects to reduce the price tag. Pawlenty decided Monday to use his line-item veto authority rather than taking down an entire $925 million bonding bill. The trimmed bill contains $717 million of general state debt.

Among the 52 rejected projects are the Central Corridor light-rail line linking Minneapolis and St. Paul, a Como Zoo gorilla exhibit and the proposed new Bell Museum of Natural History.

"Somebody has to be fiscally responsible. That job falls to me," Pawlenty said.

On the block was $81 million in easy pickings from the Central Corridor rail project and the now infamous gorilla pad at the Como Zoo. All told, more than $102 million came out of the Met Council requests (full list courtesy MPR.) The letter sent by Gov. Pawlenty to Speaker Margaret Kelliher-Anderson was quite emphatic.

I am very disappointed that the legislature ignored an understanding between my office and legislative leadership and my repeated warnings to abide by the state's longstanding debt limit. It is irresponsible to exceed the "credit card limit" that has been maintained by governors and legislators from both parties for the past 30 years. Doing so could jeopardize our state's strong credit rating and low interest rates. The overall limit is $885 million, including $60 million already allocated in the transportation bill. The legislature spent well beyond this figure.

In addition, this bill reflects misplaced priorities. As just one example, I find it inconceivable that legislators would fund a brass band music lending library and yet provide no funding for a much needed new nursing facility at the Minneapolis Veterans Home.

...The legislature should keep in mind that upholding the state's three percent debt service limit guideline is important to our overall fiscal well-being. Debt service is one of the fastest growing items in the general fund. Based on previously enacted bonding bills, the state's debt is projected to increase $239 million from the 2006-07 budget to the 2010-11 budget.
The St. Cloud Times reports that all the local projects survived. Larry Schumacher also speculates at the end of the article that the cuts below $825 million provide a little room for a second bonding bill and that the Governor's veto might indicate a willingness to logroll the legislature for the Veterans Home and Lake Vermillion projects. I doubt that will happen, though. Gary's description of treadmarks on Sen Langseth's back are probably enough reward for Pawlenty's work.

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