The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 28, 2012

Update: Mankato leaders, legislators decry Mankato exclusion from bonding

ST. PAUL — Senate Republicans unveiled a bonding bill larger than proposed by their House counterparts, but Mankato’s request for $14.5 million in civic center funding was not included.

The borrowing bill does include $32 million for Rochester’s civic center and $10 million for St. Cloud’s civic center. The Senate majority leader and chair of the Capital Investment Committee, Dave Senjem, is from Rochester.

The Senate bill also leaves out the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, which was seeking $40 million for renovation and expansion.

Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, said she was disappointed the area was left out — as it has been in the House bonding proposal.

She did find some solace in a promise by Senjem to continue discussing the Mankato civic center request for possible inclusion during conference committee hearings that will eventually take place to reconcile the House and Senate bills. While the Mankato civic center is in neither chamber’s proposal, it is in the governor’s bonding proposal so it could still be included in a final bill.

State Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, said the Senate GOP’s actions are “a slap in the face to the community.”

She said funding all or none of the civic centers is one thing, but funding two of the three regional centers is political.

Rochester and St. Cloud are represented by Republicans while Mankato/North Mankato are represented by three Democrats.

“There is no justification for this,” Brynaert said. “I think our community should speak loud and clear to Senate and House leadership about our place in the state.”

Mankato has for years been foiled in attempts to secure state funds. Mankato City Council member Mike Laven said Mankato has been working as long or longer on securing civic center funding as the other regional centers.

“It is unfair that Mankato was excluded from the Senate bonding bill. Funding for the civic center expansion is critical to securing the future of the MSU hockey program and the economic growth of the Greater Mankato region,” Laven said.

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