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Pawlenty bonding vetoes hit many DFL districts

A recent editorial in this paper correctly stated that. Gov. Tim Pawlenty "dropped a bomb" on Bemidji when he used his line-item veto authority to eliminate nearly every Bemidji project from the 2010 capital investment bill. But in truth, Gov. Pawlenty actually dropped that bomb on DFL districts across the state.

Among the most partisan actions he's taken during his seven-plus years in office, his vetoes will cost the state thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in federal matching funds.

There is no explanation beyond partisan politics to explain the governor's veto decisions. How else can one explain his veto of two high-priority projects at Anoka-Ramsey Technical College, in a district represented by a Democrat in favor of keeping a project at Alexandria Technical College represented by a Republican?

Closer to home, he vetoed the Headwaters Science Center -- an important northern Minnesota regional project that would draw thousands of students and visitors to the area from throughout the state -- while sparing the National Volleyball Center in Rochester favored by the Republican minority leader of the Senate.

Line-item vetoes notwithstanding, there is some good news for your region. Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College will share a portion of $4.8 million designated to renovate classrooms and labs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.

And while significant opportunities were lost when the bill was scaled back, it still will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work. Historically low interest rates and competitive bids will let us stretch taxpayer dollars farther than usual, and the early passage means projects in the pipeline are able to make final preparations to break ground this spring.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the work of Rep. John Persell in moving this bonding bill forward. He was a strong proponent of all of the Bemidji projects and a vocal advocate for his district.

Within hours of receiving news that the line-item vetoes had left Bemidji out in the cold, he was in my office talking about ways to bring those projects back. Residents of his district are well served by his single-minded focus on doing what's best for the people and the community he represents.

I only wish our governor had the same passion to do right by the people he represents.

Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, is a member of the Minnesota House and chairwoman of the House Capital Investment Committee.