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Pawlenty vows to veto bonding bill

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Pawlenty has vowed to veto a $1 billion public works bill passed by lawmakers Monday night, saying it is too expensive and is full of misplaced priorities.

Pawlenty sent a letter warning of his veto before members of the DFL-led House and Senate had a chance to vote on the bill.

"The people of Minnesota expect us to spend their tax dollars frugally and wisely. This bill does neither," Pawlenty wrote.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, said she was disappointed with the governor's decision but added "it's probably not totally unexpected."

She said, "I would like to see (the governor) come to the table and give us a more prescriptive understanding of what he would like to have in or out of the bill," she said.


Despite the veto threat, the Minnesota House passed the bill 85-46, and the Senate passed it 47-19. Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, was the lone southeast Minnesota Republican voting in favor of the bill, saying he was supporting it "to honor the efforts of my community."

The Legislature’s construction borrowing bill contained millions of dollars in area projects. It included at least $2 million in Reinvest in Minnesota wetland restoration grants for the Cedar River and Turtle Creek watersheds in Mower County. It also included $63.5 million in flood mitigation dollars statewide that the city of Austin could have sought. The bill also included money for area trails including $1.5 million for the Shooting Star Trail and $1 million for the Blazing Star Trail.

Pawlenty had proposed a $685 million bonding bill that did not include local projects. He had the option to use his line-item veto to bring down the cost of the bill. Instead he opted to veto the entire bill.

He cites several projects including "trail enhancements" as examples of misplaced priorities, while noting the bill failed to include funding for public safety projects including the expansion of the Moose Lake sex offender treatment center. Poppe said funding for the area trails is the most likely to get cut in a slimmed-down bonding bill.

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