Davids now behind quick DMC funding fix
In a sharp about-face, Preston Republican Rep. Greg Davids says he now supports passing an immediate fix to Destination Medical Center's funding formula when lawmakers return to St. Paul in January.
In a sharp about-face, Preston Republican Rep. Greg Davids said he now supports passing an immediate fix to Destination Medical Center's funding formula when lawmakers return to St. Paul in January.
"I've come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of everyone in the state to get this done quickly and cleanly. That's my goal," Davids said.
Having Davids' support is critical because he is widely expected to be named chairman of the House Taxes Committee. Rochester lawmakers said they were thrilled Davids is on board with passing the funding fix quickly.
"It would be absolutely great to just get a quick fix done early," said Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester.
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature passed the DMC bill that sets aside up to $585 million in public dollars to help cover infrastructure costs associated with Mayo Clinic's planned 20-year expansion. The sudden need for legislation follows a Minnesota Attorney General Office's opinion in September that the DMC legislation requires $12 billion in private investment before the full $327 million in state aid could be accessed. That's double the amount Mayo Clinic and the city of Rochester had planned on and not what lawmakers intended, according to local legislators and DMC supporters.
In a Post-Bulletin interview earlier this month, Davids said he wasn't interested in rushing to pass a DMC funding fix and instead wanted to re-examine the project's entire funding structure. But Davids said he has since been convinced it is critical to take quick action on the funding fix to ease any fears of wary investors.
"What we need to do now is, as expeditiously as we can, we need to get the fix through so the investors can start investing and people can start working," Davids said.
He said he has drafted a three-page funding fix bill he plans to introduce at the start of session. He did caution, however, that Republican and DFL leaders will have to be supportive of the fix in order for it to move quickly. He also wants to hold hearings later in the session about DMC's funding structure and whether residents of Rochester and Olmsted County are getting stuck with an unfair tax burden.
Another key player in the bill's passage will be Senate Tax Committee Chairman Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said she is pleased Davids understands the urgent need to clarify the DMC language.
"Investors like good news. They adjust for bad news. But uncertainty freezes investment, and we cannot let that happen at the hands of the Minnesota Legislature," Nelson said. "So I applaud Davids' decision to move quickly with the swift, clean bill, and it is my sincere hope that the Senate does the same."