Gov. Pawlenty signs bonding bill, with $320 million in line-item vetoes

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has just signed the state bonding bill, but he cut nearly one-third of the $1 billion that legislators had earmarked for construction projects around the state.

And he told DFL legislators that he was disappointed, in no uncertain terms:

“I am deeply disappointed that the bill still spends nearly $1 billion despite my repeated and pointed warnings that I would not sign a bill of this magnitude,” he wrote.

“As usual, I have been left to reduce spending within the bill to an affordable level. The DFL-controlled legislature seems incapable of prioritizing projects or simply saying no. So, I have again done it for you.”

His vetoes reduce the bill from nearly $1 billion to $680 million. Details of his cuts take up seven pages of his letter (PDF).

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Howard Salute on 03/15/2010 - 12:38 pm.

    While I am sure many of these projects are worthy, I find myself supporting the governor’s desire to spend within the state’s means. And if a municipality or region needs a capital project….why don’t they fund it themself? I’m sure most MN residents will never benefit from a public safety building for the folks in Princeton, $5 mil for a cultural center in St Paul, or 2.2 mil for an auditorium in Chatfield. Hey..Chatfield, you want an auditorium…then pony up! In the meantime maybe the state can figure out how to fund things like our court system to provide justice for all, education to ensure a brighter future…..

  2. Submitted by Michael Fiala on 03/15/2010 - 02:24 pm.

    So the King has spoken: “Let them eat cake.” Thanks so much for doing it “for you” (the people of Minnesota). I have a strong feeling it’s not for us, but for . . . well, I guess I know. I’m also deeply disappointed. Not for myself so much, but for the great state of Minnesota, which the King has apparently forgotten in his quest (read ’tilting windmills’) for becoming ‘Emperor’ (read ‘President’). Too bad. I still have great respect for his talent and ability as a person who can get the right things done . . . if he should want. Just that now I seriously doubt his judgement and his commitment to our state.

  3. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 03/15/2010 - 02:33 pm.

    I was on the board of Springbrook Nature Center, which is a city park – paid exclusively by the people of Fridley. People come from all over the state – all over the world – to enjoy this bit of serenity in the northern Twin Cities. We get more than 250,000 visits – mostly in warmer months – to the point it is being loved to death. One of the biggest users is young families – who probably can’t afford some big trip to see duck, geese and tadpoles, etc. In fact, a Republican legislator from outside the area was at Springbrook with his daughter a month ago – effectively proving what we claim. So, the City of Fridley should fund this completely?

    We asked for about a third of what we are planning to do to improve the park to make it more people proof. This is the fourth year Pawlenty has line item vetoed it. I’m sure if this were for hunters or anglers or motorcycle riders or snowmobilers, we would have had the money in a heartbeat. Try to do something nice for nature and the people who enjoy it, you get kicked in the teeth – with glee.

  4. Submitted by Annette Costello Lee on 03/15/2010 - 05:48 pm.

    Gees our guv is a putz! It’s the same as the little kid on the playground saying “play by my rules, or I’ll take my ball home”. (Only I’ll whip out my pen.) Never mind who it hurts, it’s who I determine (read: whoever benefits me or has benefited me) gets the bucks… It more than disappoints me, it ticks me off… King Timmy indeed.

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/15/2010 - 06:08 pm.

    While many of his introductory remarks are little more than political posturing, in my opinion, I find very little to srgue with in the specifics of his cuts.

  6. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 03/16/2010 - 12:09 pm.

    A real loss here is the fact that with so many construction companies and workers without something to do, bids are coming in low, low, low. So, thanks to Pawlenty’s super-selfish political panderings, some of these projects will wait a few years and probably cost A LOT more than they would today. The bonding bill is like a home mortgage paying for long-term improvements.

  7. Submitted by Howard Miller on 03/16/2010 - 01:44 pm.

    I think of the billion dollar bonding bill as a state-level stimulus package, which we sorely need.

    We can not cost-cut our way out of recession. Universities are closing programs, laying off staff. Poor people are being forced back to the ER room for medical care, since there they can’t be turned away. Commercial/private construction is still in deep recession. The bond projects are individually worthy to Minnesota citizens.

    The bond bill was one way for Minnesota to help kick-start it’s own economy that we could actually afford, without raising taxes shortrun.

    These vetos are, in effect, an expressed preference for recession, so long as the state spends less as a result.

    If we try hard, we can spend even less, and soon become the frozen Mississippi of the midwest US

  8. Submitted by Howard Salute on 03/16/2010 - 01:45 pm.

    Jeremy…I’m sure your park projects are worthwhile and enjoyable to many people. Thanks for your volunteer efforts. Unfortunately, our state is broke. Expenses are greater than revenues. People are being denied basic services. Personally, at this time, I would spend scarce dollars giving people health care,education and access to the courts. But that is just my opinion. I still respect your opinion to spend those dollars on a park. But, priorities need to be established and responsible budgets established to support the priorites. Just because something is less expensive today does not mean we should “buy” it. I am more than willing to pay “user fees” to enjoy special government services. If that “serenity in the northern Twin Cities” is beyond the scope of Fridley’s budget (and is truly treasured worldwide)…how about a user fee to nonresidents? Wouldn’t it be nice if the name calling would stop a state budget is established and passed based upon the priorities of the citizens of the state?

  9. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 03/17/2010 - 09:44 am.

    Howard,

    The bonding bill, again, is like a home equity loan. It should be used for tangible things. Tangible things last generations and therefore justify borrowing money that is to be paid over a period of time. To use that money for health care and classroom instruction would be like putting gasoline and groceries on a long-term credit card. The bonds go for years, through good times and bad.

    We had implemented a fee. We even had volunteers willing to monitor the entrances. This did two things. It reduced the number of people who went and it meant that rowdies made new ways into the park to avoid paying and being seen. Even Three Rivers Park District has backed away from fees because it costs more to implement than its worth.

    People have a right — and yes, I mean a real “right” — to be able to public spaces without fees. Most countries don’t charge you to use things like National Parks. Our National Mall in Washington, with all of the monuments, is free – as it should be. Do you know that in many states, except for things like camping, there is no charge for using a state park? Go to Iowa. They’re all free. Just drive in.

    Tagging fees on to parks is just another way for rich citizens of this country to avoid paying their fair share for the things that people ought to take pride in. Some call it No New Taxes. I call it nothing more than avarice and immoral.

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