Our View: Davids' reversal on DMC fix is welcome
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...
One of the frequent declarations we heard during the election campaign was that business owners need certainty to have the confidence to invest capital and create more jobs.
So when the Minnesota Attorney General's Office concluded the language in the Destination Medical Center bill meant $12 billion in private funding would need to be raised before DMC could tap the full amount of $327 million in state money earmarked for infrastructure, it raised an element of uncertainty to the project. The intent of the legislative language was that $6 billion in private funding would have to be raised before accessing state money.
Even though we were assured it would be easy to fix the legislation and it should pass early in the 2015 session, many of us were left with an uneasy awareness that this could become a political bargaining chip, especially after Rep. Greg Davids, who will become chairman of the House Taxes Committee in January, said he would like to re-examine DMC's funding structure and that he wasn't keen on fast-tracking an amended DMC bill.
Even last week, we were receiving assurances from DMC leaders that the language revision would be clarified, and it wouldn't become a partisan wedge issue after Republicans regain control of the Minnesota House.
"We've always had bipartisan support for this, and although some changes have happened since the election, I feel very confident and our legislators do as well that the DMC is alive and well once we get through the clarification," said Lisa Clarke, DMC administrator for Mayo, at a public forum at Mayo Civic Center in response to an audience member's question about the legislation's disputed language.
Clarke's confidence was confirmed when Davids reversed his position and announced he will introduce a revised DMC bill at the beginning of the session. Davids said he still has concerns about DMC's funding structure and plans to conduct hearings later in the session to determine if residents of Rochester and Olmsted County have a disproportionate tax burden.
While we suspect Davids, a Republican from Preston who was re-elected to his 12th term, used the disputed DMC language as a grandstanding issue for his constituents this fall, we welcome his change of heart. His renewed advocacy for DMC should ease the concerns of wary investors.
The DMC project calls for $6 billion in private investment to help Rochester with a transformative expansion of the Mayo Clinic, including $585 million in public sources to pay for the infrastructure needed to support that growth. It's not only a prudent investment for Rochester and the surrounding region, but with the projections of tens of thousands of new jobs during the next 20 years, it should be a boon for the entire state as well.
We commend Davids for restoring confidence in the biggest economic development project in Minnesota.