Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bonding Bill pull back gives “Pause” but will it give Intelligence.

Minnesotans call your DFL representative or any DFLer if you are not represented by one and thank them for holding back the bonding bill. Right now Minnesota faces a $1.2B budget deficit and adding another $1B to the books just does not make sense. To make matters worse the projects listed in the bonding bill do very little to improve the state or create permanent jobs. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher explained the reason for pulling back the bonding bill as, "It's a pause, it's a second chance, and I think it's the right thing to do right now" (Star Tribune, February 24, 2010). I agree with the House Speaker but I don't share her reasoning. The hope of the DFL Party was to ram through the bonding bill then watch Governor Pawlenty red line, through the line-item veto, some of the projects on the list. Well Gov. Pawlenty sent a letter to the Legislature warning that the current bonding bill will be met with an outright veto.

Granted part of Pawlenty's plan is to show America and the Republican Party that he is fiscally conservative. Plus, I see the bonding bill becoming a bargaining chip as the Legislature deals with GMAC and other unallotment by Pawlenty. Let's put the politics aside for a moment and take a realistic look at the purpose of the bonding bill. The purpose of this bonding bill is to reward members of the Legislature for their vote with pet projects in their home region. I agree it would be great to have a sports complex in Western Carver County or a hockey rink in Hamburg but when already are facing a $1.2 B deficit this go around and a possible $5-8B next biennium red does it make sense? When you sit down to at your own budget and realize that the household income is falling short do you honestly think the best move is to put a pool in the backyard, buy a new SUV or take a 2-week all-inclusive cruise? Most responsible adults will say no.

Unfortunately that is not the mentality we are getting from our elected officials in Minnesota or Washington D.C. The Government cannot spend our way out of current economic situation, especially through pet projects like we see in the bonding bill. Now, if we must spend money and I mean must, and then spend it on projects that improve the communities that lay the ground work for future expansion and sustainable economic booms. Do we want to wait for another bridge to fall before replacing it? Do we want to wait for another town to be flooded before taking preventative measures? No. If we must spend a billion dollars then spend it on projects that improve the infrastructure of Minnesota. Community Centers, ice rinks, trails, parks, and sports complexes are great but if the sewer lines, bridges, roads, or levies give way all we end up doing is spending more money to clean up the Community Centers, ice rinks, trails, parks, and sport complexes.

In my small town of Hamburg money has been raised through fundraising activities to improve our park, erect an electronic sign, and other projects. Hamburg's population is only 550 residents. Why cannot a city like Rochester, that has a population of 100,413 (http://www.city-data.com/city/Rochester-Minnesota.html) people, find a way for citizens to raise funds for a new volleyball court? Rochester is about 183 times larger than Hamburg. According to Hamburg's City Clerk Jeremy Gruenhagen, at last night's city council meeting, the improvements made to Hamburg over the past eight was about $100,000. The $100,000 was not given to Hamburg for improvements made via the Legislature or Government; it was raised by the citizens that live in and around Hamburg. Now, I'd like to think that Rochester could raise more per capita but for argument sake let's say they raise the same as Hamburg. That would be $18,300,000. The proposed volleyball court, in the bonding bill, is only $5,000,000.

We have seen the power of donating through the incredible amount of money raised during the last Presidential election to the money amassed to help Haiti. When it comes to these extra frills for the community, the citizens need to take ownership and action not relying on a pet project to win a vote from their representative. Allow the money the state takes in to go to keeping up safe, assisting with education our youth and sustaining an infrastructure for continual growth. So, pick up the phone and thank the DFL Party for pulling back the bonding bill and implore them to rescind it in order to craft a new bonding bill that moves Minnesota forward.