ST. PAUL – A $349 million economic development proposal approved by the Minnesota House and Senate has received a veto from Governor Tim Pawlenty. State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Watonwan County), who opposed the plan, said he was not surprised by the veto because the bill contained poor priorities.
“It was actually a jobs bill that did not create jobs,” Torkelson said. “It gave millions to a hockey arena in St. Paul, but did nothing to entice employers to relocate their businesses or expand their workforce in Minnesota.”
While the plan funded a variety of state government agencies, including the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Department of Labor and Industry, Minnesota Housing Finance, and Public Broadcasting, it also forgave nearly $33 million in future loan payments that the city of St. Paul owes Minnesota according to the agreement to finance the RiverCentre/Xcel Energy Center project.
Torkelson said the hockey arena language was the reason Pawlenty vetoed the proposal.
“With our poor business climate in the state, it would have been nice to see an economic development plan that encouraged businesses to improve their operations and put more people to work,” Torkelson said. “Our JOBZ program is a good example of a state program that can revitalize a community by encouraging an employer to relocate. Yet there were no business incentive programs in this economic development bill, and our liberal leadership is actually trying to end the JOBZ program in another finance proposal.”
“The best way to eliminate a $6.4 billion deficit is to put people to work,” Torkelson continued. “It’s hard to believe a $349 million jobs funding proposal didn’t put people to work, but that’s exactly what’s happened.”
Torkelson said the House and Senate must now reach agreement on a new proposal before session is required to end on May 18.