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Civic Center funding gets the ax

Gov. Tim Pawlenty axed $319 million from the Legislature's $1 billion public works bill, including funding for Rochester's Mayo Civic Center expansion.

However, the oft-vetoed Rochester National Volleyball Center expansion dodged the governor's pen and kept the $4 million legislators had allotted for it.

The Republican governor said in a letter to lawmakers that the bill ignored his request that it be about $725 million and that it prioritize veterans, military and public safety before funding less important projects. Pawlenty used his line-item veto to cut the $28 million for the Mayo Civic Center expansion project, saying it was among specific local projects that were funded while other statewide needs were disregarded.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede was in Washington, D.C., this morning when he heard the news. He said he had just been listening to an adviser to President Obama talk about the importance of investing in projects to create jobs.

"Then I get the e-mail that probably one of the biggest job-creators that was in the bonding bill is cut — our Mayo Civic Center," Brede said.


Other projects cut include $8.5 million to relocate Rochester's Workforce Center to the Rochester Community and Technical College campus. Pawlenty also cut $2.2 million to renovate Chatfield's historic Potter Auditorium into a performing arts center. Survivors along with the National Volleyball Center included $1 million to extend the Douglas Trail to Rochester's Cascade Lake Recreation Area and $26 million for a new state transportation maintenance facility in Rochester.

Sen. Ann Lynch, DFL-Rochester, who served on the Senate-House bonding conference committee, said she is disheartened by the the cuts the governor made.

"I am trying to figure out how we can knowingly walk away from the potential to bring new revenue into the state," Lynch said. "I am pretty disappointed."

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