The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 22, 2013

Our View: Revised Mayo plan is worth pursuing


The Free Press

— When the state's largest private employer pitches a plan seeking public financing to support a major expansion, they will inevitably be heard.

When that employer is the world renowned Mayo Clinic, they are certain to get full attention.

Mayo's intention of pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding their Rochester facilities is of obvious benefit, not just to southeastern Minnesota but to the entire state. Patients from around the world and all of Minnesota gain from Mayo's work and its regional presence, including Mankato.

Still, the initial proposal to the Legislature by Mayo and Rochester contained some items troubling to lawmakers.

A revised plan, unveiled in a Senate committee Monday, is superior.

Mayo is not asking for any state money to pay for any clinic building upgrades. Instead about $400 million in state aid and tax breaks would assist with roads, sewers and other public infrastructure.

Mayo and other private investors say the infrastructure upgrade could bring $5 billion in privately financed construction over the next two decades.

Under the revised proposal, Rochester would pay more toward the projects -- $128 million rather than $60 million. That would come from a variety of increased or new local taxes and fees.

And under the new plan, state tax money would only start flowing after at least $250 million is invested by Mayo and Rochester.

Compared to large subsidies that have been approved for sports stadiums, the Mayo proposal seems like a no-brainer: The world's medical leader -- which also has facilities in Arizona and Florida -- significantly expands its home base in Minnesota, which invariably will bring other private investments and expand the medical research and care Mayo is known for.