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Editorial: Stop the games

It’s no wonder politics turn off so many.

Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton put the spotlight on the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System during his State of the State address. He said he wanted a $1.2 billion bonding bill that would complete the project, which would provide the water so desperately needed to the future economic vitality of our region.

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How swiftly things change. The Minnesota Senate released its bonding package Monday, and the amount of $13 million for Lewis & Clark is far, far less than the $69 million Dayton had spoken about just a few days earlier. It should be noted that Dayton’s requested bonding bill amount was $1.2 billion; the Senate’s is a little more than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, just a few short days after inviting Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian up to St. Paul and making him a State of the State guest — and touting the importance and benefits of Lewis and Clark — Dayton is now recommending $20.2 million in funding for the project in a new bonding bill. The Minnesota House, for its part, was seeking $20 million, but House Speaker Paul Thissen confirmed Monday the money had been stripped entirely. What happened?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is completely about politics. Many Republicans are hesitant to embrace higher bonding bill figures, so DFL leaders have crafted smaller packages in attempt to lure votes from the other party. Our Republican representatives, though, care far more about getting money for Lewis & Clark than they do about the ultimate size of the bill, but now ironically may not get to vote for anywhere near $69 million — instead, less than a third of that, and perhaps even nothing.

If Lewis & Clark really is as important to the governor as it seemingly was last week, he needs to put his foot down and demand the full amount. Our future as a region depends on it.

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