As others see it: Governor's leverage
It seems quite likely that the DFL-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty are on an inevitable collision course this session regarding how much bonding will be done for public works projects in Minnesota.
DFLers have their sights set on a bonding bill of about $1 billion. Leadership wisely, so far, has rebuffed efforts by some more lib-eral/progressive legislators to beef up the bonding bill to $1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, the governor has maintained that the bonding bill can't exceed $685 million. And, with Pawlenty's past pledges on taxes and bonding along with his current lusting after the national conservative Republican base for a likely presidential run, he's not about to negotiate upwards from that amount. With that reality in mind, the No. 1 priority -- a must out of the Iron Range projects -- is the $5 million-plus needed for renovation and additions to the Mesabi Range Community & Technical College to get all millwright and carpentry programs under the same roof. It is an essential education and economic development project for the Iron Range.
It has already been canceled out twice in past years by the line item veto pen of the governor. And that's a pitiful shame.
The governor will once again this year have the bonding bill advantage. His line item veto power is checkmate to the DFL Party's legislative check.
But Range lawmakers should be speaking with one voice to the governor and his aides that the Mesabi Range Community & Technical College project is of vital importance to the region and the state and should not this be a veto victim.
Heck, Pawlenty can even use this fine project on Minnesota's Iron Range as part of his presidential testing the waters stump speech in New Hampshire and Iowa and other 2012 presidential locales. After all, what matters is the project gets funded this year.