The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 14, 2012

Senjem: Session successful, governor vetoes disappoint

MANKATO — Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem says the 2012 legislative session was largely a success, Mankato still has a good chance to get civic center upgrade funding, and Mark Dayton’s veto pen was the session’s biggest disappointment.

Senjem swung through Mankato Monday to deliver his summary of the session and had mostly positive things to say.

On the matter of Mankato’s years-long quest to get state funding for upgrades to its civic center, Senjem said the money allocated to the Department of Employment and Economic Development gives Mankato a good second chance.

Given the fact Mankato is a regional center that reaches to the Iowa border, and because of the civic center’s affiliation with Minnesota State University for hockey events, Senjem said, “I think that will stand tall and I hope that they apply.”

Mankato and a handful of other projects around the state that traditionally would have gotten funding via a bonding bill were shut out this year. Senjem said they wanted to get away from earmarking money for city-specific projects and thought that going through the DEED process was a more appropriate method of doling out cash.

“We’re going to experiment with this for a year or two,” Senjem said. “We wanted to try this out.”

Mankato will have stiff competition, however, if it applies. Projects in Rochester, St. Cloud, Wadena, St. Paul and Minneapolis — projects that total more than $100 million in requests — will be vying for the roughly $45 million set aside to DEED.

Mankato has been trying for years to get funding for that project. But Senjem said that’s not likely to get them any sympathy.

“They’ve been long on the list,” he said. “At the same time so has St. Cloud, so has Rochester.”

Senjem said the last two years have been good for Minnesota. A $6 billion deficit was erased and now the state has a nearly $1 billion surplus.

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