Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled his $685 million bonding plan for the state Friday, signaling that he’d veto a richer bill from the state Legislature rather than trim it via line-item vetoes.
That came as a surprise to State Rep. Alice Hausman, who chairs the House Capital Investment Finance Division. She said she understood from legislative leaders that Pawlenty would be willing to sign a bonding bill soon.
Hausman told reporters after Pawlenty’s presentation that she saw “cynicism” in his take on bonding-bill dynamics, in which DFLers in the Legislature propose bonding they know he’ll excise.
“That is not why I’m here,” Hausman said.
In proposing what he acknowledged some would call a “Spartan” level of bonding, she added, Pawlenty is missing the “one positive” of the poor economy: “bids come in low, and low interest rates.”
DFLers have advocated early passage of a bonding bill to get dollars flowing into the state’s economy.
But Pawlenty painted a different picture, in which government spending provides not a gain but simply a shift of money within the economy.
“Net that out,” he said.
He showed special disdain for state bonding for projects that he said had only local significance. “Some of them are kind of ludicrous. … Government at all levels is out of money. You’ve got to be willing to say no.”
On that point Hausman also took issue, saying that she and other legislators do say no, and that funded projects get screened for regional impact.
Palwenty also predicted that higher education was on the verge of technological transformation – “the equivalent of iTunes for higher ed” – that those pushing higher-ed projects don’t see.
Higher ed comprises 30 percent of Pawlenty’s proposed bonding, followed by transportation (19 percent).
The bulk of the bonding for public safety and corrections (16 percent) is for an $89 million expansion of the sex-offender facility at Moose Lake.
The remaining projects are for flood mitigation, natural resources and the environment (14 percent); economic development (11 percent); and veterans and the military (4 percent). Miscellaneous projects, including $21 million for the Minnesota Zoo, accounted for 6 percent.
Pawlenty also announced a deal with U.S. Steel for land that would create a state park at Lake Vermillion – a pet project of his. Minnesota will pay $18 million, and U.S. Steel will count $2.3 million of land value as a gift to the state.
That’s contingent on the Legislature removing a $14 million spending cap, without which Pawlenty predicted bulldozers would roll next summer to build residences instead of the park he envisions where average-income Minnesotans could enjoy the outdoors.
Stargazing of the indoor kind won’t be an option again in Minneapolis anytime soon under Pawlenty’s proposal: he’s calling in $22 million in bonding for a new planetarium there, saying the project hasn’t gotten off the ground.
Pawlenty criticized increased pay for teachers, saying that “the general goal should be for our public employees to be held flat.”
Asked whether that philosophy held for financial-industry CEOs, whose compensation President Obama wants to limit due to the federal bailout, Pawlenty said he disagreed with the bailout in the first place: “They shouldn’t have done that.”