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Pawlenty axes all Bemidji projects

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday exercised his line-item veto to cut out all Bemidji area projects from the $1 billion Legislature-approved public works bill.

"As usual, I have been left to reduce spending within the bill to an affordable level," the Republican governor said in his veto letter. "The DFL-controlled Legislature seems incapable of prioritizing projects or simply saying no. So I have done it for you."

From the Headwaters Science Center to a University of Minnesota research lab at Itasca State Park, Pawlenty's red pen hit every Bemidji area project that was in the bonding bill approved Friday by the Legislature.

He cut the $999.9 million bill down to $686 million - nearly even to his original $685 million bill and the $725 million compromise figure he threw out. It amounts to $313 million in excised projects.

Pawlenty cut from the bill:

-- $3.67 million for a new University of Minnesota biological station at Itasca State Park.

-- $4.85 million for nine campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, including Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, for classroom renovations in science, technology, engineering and math.

-- $21.4 million for state trail acquisition and development, including $1.8 million for a Paul Bunyan Trail bridge in Bemidji.

-- $5.78 million for Red Lake High School and Middle School improvements.

-- $475,000 for planning and design of a new Headwaters Science Center.

The only remaining funds for Bemidji are those doled out system wide by MnSCU for emergency repairs or roof replacements. The bill has $52 million to be shared among all MnSCU campus