The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 15, 2014

Civic center, treatment center make bonding list

Gov. Dayton releases 2014 capital project recommendations

The governor's list for state-funded construction project brought good news to the city of Mankato and staff at St. Peter's Regional Treatment Center. But its exclusion of a clinical sciences building at Minnesota State University is a stumbling block for the school's effort.

The governor's proposed list, weighing in at $986 million, includes $14.5 million for the Mankato Verizon Wireless Center expansion and $64 million at the treatment center.

In a phone interview, Dayton said this is the fourth time he's included the Mankato civic center in his bonding bill (it’s the eighth try overall). It hasn't passed until now "for reasons that really astound me."

He said the project has an "obvious benefit" to the city, and noted its wide support in and around Mankato, but said some Republicans have an ideological opposition. Because a bonding bill requires a three-fifths majority to pass, it needs the support of at least eight Republicans in the House and four in the Senate.

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, supports the Mankato civic center as an issue of fairness.

“I don’t disagree with the Republican ideology on civic centers. I think the problem is that once we’ve got it started we have to be fair,” he said.

Still, he doesn’t like the idea of “picking winners and losers” and encouraging cities to compete against each other.

“I think once we get these last civic centers taken care of in these regional centers, we should probably rethink this whole process,” Cornish said.

Because Dayton’s bill is sized at $986 million, higher than some Republicans want, there is a risk that the civic centers be removed to lower the total and get more votes.

Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, the lead Republican on the bonding committee, told The Associated Press that the governor’s plan was costly and misguided.

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