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Prominent Rochester residents question Mayo's plan for massive state subsidy

The Mayo Clinic's request for $585 million in state funding for infrastructure to help in a vast expansion of the health care facility in Rochester has faced some opposition in the Legislature, and now two prominent Rochester citizens are raising questions.

John Krusel, an antique shop owner, and District Court Judge Kevin Lund sent a four-page letter to key legislators, saying residents weren't allowed to weigh in before it was presented in St. Paul, says the Rochester Post Bulletin.

Mayo's plan: expand its Rochester operations with a $3.5 billion investment over 20 years, with an additional $2 billion in private money coming in, too. The plan is for the state to spend more than half a billion dollars over that time frame to upgrade infrastructure in the city, paid for by additional state income, sales, business and corporate taxes generated by the project.

Kruesel, owner of General Merchandise and Auction Co., and Judge Lund, aren't satisfied that Mayo has sold Rochester citizens on the idea.

Says their letter to the legislators:

"It is shocking that the Mayo Clinic and other private individuals have taken at least two years and millions of dollars to secretly develop this complex legislation and yet our community and the state Legislature are being asked to decide this massive initiative in essentially four months. This is not a decision to be made hastily."

Kruesel told the paper: "The reason that we sent this letter out is there has been less than transparency in this discussion. We ask certain questions, they are directed to certain people, those questions either are left unanswered or wrong information is given or we heard 'We'll get back to you' and that doesn't happen."

Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson told the paper that there's been lots of discussion in the community about the project, and that most people like the plan.

"Community engagement is important to us and we have worked with community leaders and community members from the outset of the project and will continue to moving forward," he said.

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Comments (1)

Time to start asking, what do we get in return?

The latest ways to grow big business (for-profit or not) is no longer to cater to consumer needs thereby creating more demand, but to show up at the state capital or in D.C. with a tin cup and veiled threats. Fill our cup from the public trough or we will go elsewhere.

Maybe it is time for legislators and congressman to start demanding right back. Call their bluff. What will be the taxpayer return on investment and for how long? How committed are they?

It is time for the legislators to start asking the tough questions and demanding binding commitments. If the Mayo wants a significant investment, whether it is to elevate community standards or a direct subsidy, maybe it is time for them to have a good faith showing of their commitment. What is the Mayo currently outsourcing that they can bring back to Minnesota? Will the Mayo commit to hiring and training more Minnesota residents? Is the Mayo committed to expanding their medical school? Is the Mayo open to expanding medical training in nursing and other areas to elevate Minnesota and the Rochester area and put us on the map as the desired local for the highest quality of medical education? Show us the numbers and commit to them.

What type of jobs will the investment bring? If the jobs are not of the calibur that will add revenue to Minnesota in the form of income and property tax, then they are not the type of jobs worth the investment. We should not be investing our treasure to create more service worker jobs that we in turn have to further subsidize because the pay is not enough to meet the costs of living in Minnesota.

How long is their economic growth commitment and what are the clawback provisions and penalties if they don't fulfill their end of the bargain? If businesses, for-profit or not-for profit, want public money, they should have to demonstrate some serious binding commitments that are backed up by some form of collateral and up front demonstations of good faith investments.