The Rochester Post-Bulletin notes today that a key DFL lawmaker — House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski — doesn’t think much of a huge state subsidy for an expansion of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester:
“It seems pretty unlikely to ever happen,” Lenczewski said. “It’s a massive public subsidy.”
On Thursday, the health care giant announced plans for a major expansion that includes $3.5 billion in capital investments and an additional $2.1 billion in private investment over the next 20 years. They say it could add tens of thousands of jobs statewide.
The plan includes a request for $585 million from the state for parking, transportation, utilities, bridges and other improvements, to be financed with bonds that would be repaid with the new taxes generated by the expansion.
Gov. Mark Dayton was part of the announcement and called it an “exciting day” for Minnesota, but tempered his comments by noting: “I can’t stress the importance of this overall. I don’t know if this is exactly the right financing mechanism.”
Today’s Rochester story says Lenczewski notes that the Legislature has rejected similar projects that wanted to pay for infrastructure with the new state tax dollars generated by the project.
Without her support, it will be harder to pass the Mayo subsidy this year, said Republican state Rep. Greg Davids of Preston, who is also on the House Taxes Committee, the story said:
“It’s troubling that (Lenczewski) is not on board on this, but we will work with her,” he said. “If she wants to stop the project,she may have the power to do that, but hopefully in negotiating over a period of time we can get this project moving forward.”
DFL state Rep. Kim Norton of Rochester, who plans to sponsor the Mayo bill, sees challenges.
“Not only is it new, it is going to give Rochester something no one else has ever had and it may set a precedence for what others will ask for in the future, and I think that is something the Legislature needs to think long and hard about,” she said.
But Norton has hope, the story said, that:
…the case can be made that as the state’s large private employer, Mayo Clinic has a level of state activity that no one else can match along with a willingness to invest a massive amount of money in the state.