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Dayton bonding plan too broad, too costly

January 20, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has gotten things about half right with a proposed $775 million state bonding bill. The money would go to construction projects around the state, so the governor is touting it as a "job-creator." He estimates that as many as 21,700 "private sector" jobs would be created.

But if one looks closer at the proposal, there is plenty of room for skepticism. To start, the projects involved include more than $100 million for work on college campuses, a $27 million minor league baseball stadium, $70 million for civic center projects in Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato, $25 million for light rail in Minneapolis and $25 million to rebuild Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. In other words, there is pork aplenty. That means funding that benefits local projects even though the whole state pays.

Secondly, the governor is playing word games when it comes to creating "private sector"?jobs. What he means is that the construction firms that will do the work are part of the private sector. Yes, but the financing is public. If you rely on government contracts for your living, you are essentially a public employee.

Finally, we understand that some infrastructure spending is valuable, such as money spent on roads and bridges. Quality infrastructure is necessary to maintain commerce. We suspect the Republican-led Legislature will agree with Dayton on some aspects of his plan. That makes sense. But the overall size and scope of Dayton's proposal does not. It should be trimmed and tamed.



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