ST. PAUL – Local projects – totaling nearly $8.5 million in the Litchfield area alone – were approved by Gov. Tim Pawlenty Monday, even as he used his veto pen to trim more than $208 million from the bonding bill before authorizing it.
“I said I trusted Pawlenty to make wise decisions when reviewing the bill and, in fact, encouraged him to get the bonding figure closer to the recommended limit,” state Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City said. “I felt there was room for the governor to trim down the bill without eliminating funding for our most important projects and that mission was accomplished.”
Pawlenty reduced the bonding bill to $716 million. The final version still includes $6 million in funding for the Litchfield wastewater treatment plant, allowing First District Association expansion that may double the facility’s size. First District’s increased dairy production could positively impact the Minnesota economy by up to $850 million annually.
Funding to develop Greenleaf State Recreational Area ($2.4 million) south of Litchfield and grants for historical societies also are in the bill, as well as funding for higher education. The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system both stand to receive marked bonding support.
The bonding bill also could aid Howard Lake, Dassel, Darwin, Cosmos and Grove City by providing funding for water-related projects.
The Legislature last week handed Pawlenty a bonding bill that was $100 million above the $825 million threshold recommended by our state economist; bonding for more than $825 million could have damaged Minnesota’s sterling credit rating. Pawlenty used line item vetoes to strike down what he deemed to be luxury spending instead of vetoing the entire bill and jeopardizing funding for priority projects.
The Central Corridor, Northshore Express, and high speed rail to Chicago were among the cuts, as were Bell Museum landscaping, gorilla cages and a brass band sheet music museum.