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Jan 20, 2010


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Minnesota Central

Is it possible to cut down to $400 million ?

It is arguable that space could be opened at Moose Lake by transferring some inmates from the state-owned prison to Minnesota’s lone privately run facility, Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton … an idea which has been advanced by some Republican legislators … so strike $89 million from Pawlenty’s total.
Eliminating $80 million for a physics and nanotechnology building at the University of Minnesota may not be enough … so let’s just stall one more year on ALL funding for Higher Education .. that’s $246 million (which includes over $100 million in normal asset maintenance).

Now, since Pawlenty’s “financially responsible bonding proposal” tallies $815 million that leaves $80 million that must be cut to hit Parry’s target of $400 million … no problem … just stall one more year the $75 million funding to replace approximately 960 bridges that Pawlenty would approve.

Simple … isn’t it.
What’s one more year with no investment in education and bridges … and think of the jobs that will be created in the private sector in Appleton.

Simple ... but unwise ... and rather impulsive.

Minnesota Central

OK, seriously … when I heard Parry’s plan (after he had continued to advance his 15% across-the-board budget cut), I thought this man has no idea what is required to operate an effective government … much less a productive society. Our communities have severe investment shortfalls … look no further than the water / sewer systems … for example consider Waldorf in Waseca County. They requested $650,000 in state funding to implement an inflow and infiltration (I&I) abatement program to correct its on-going sewer I&I problem. The community’s wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) was constructed in 1947. The Little Cobb River is the discharge point for effluent from the WWTF, and eventually flows into the Minnesota River through the Big Cobb, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth Rivers.
The work that needs to be done is essential and but unfortunately, the tax base is not large enough to support funding it on its own so past solution has been get half from the state and half from the residents.
Waldorf isn’t alone … Vernon Center requested $700,000 … and there are similar WWTF or I&I projects for Minnesotans in Backus, Chisholm, Duluth, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hamburg, Hibbing, Mora, North Branch, and other 33 communities who have submitted requests for funding.
Another city that did not make Pawlenty’s cut is Willmar which requested $20,000,000 in state funding for the relocation of its wastewater treatment facility. Willmar's wastewater treatment facility has been highly ranked on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's priority list because of concerns of ammonia and phosphorus within the watershed. Wilmer’s existing WWTF is the second highest point source contributor of phosphorus (14%) to the Minnesota River. The existing WWTF does not have the technology to remove or treat for phosphorus. The new WWTF will contain the technology needed to reduce the levels of phosphorus discharged by 90 percent, thereby improving water quality to the lower Minnesota River watershed at Shakopee. This will also help improve the water quality as the Minnesota River drains to the Mississippi River and will help reduce the overall phosphorus loading to Lake Pepin.

If I am reading Pawlenty’s recommend funding correctly, it looks he has allocated $20,000,000 for them to fight over ... which is about $40,000,000 less than what was requested. Failure to get state funding will mean that water quality will be affected ... which will only make those communities less desirable for businesses to operate there ... much less encouraging people to live there.

Parry and Pawlenty are just the team to fulfill the Club for Growth dream of “shrinking the size of government so small that you can flush it down the toilet” … except in Minnesota’s case our wastewater treatment facilities can not support that flush.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.


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