Pawlenty’s Bells and Whistles Sound Like a Money Pit

The Minnesota Legislature will convene with a Republican majority facing a budget crisis … and the first question is : “What’s your Priority ?”

Governor Pawlenty asked a similar question in his 2009 State of the State Address when he suggested that the legislature should focus as a family would looking at thier own expenses during a typical kitchen table discussion. Governor Pawlenty chose his priority … a legacy … a new state park. Well, at least he made the down payment … $18 million dollars … all the while he was delaying payments to taxpayers and school districts … plus cutting spending elsewhere … like Renters’ Credit that affected over 300,000 low- and moderate-income households.

Pawlenty’s down payment means that more spending will be required to usable.

So how to define “usable” ?

Well, Tim Tomsich, Brietung Township supervisor who serves on the park’s citizens advisory council, said the new park will be a “showcase destination for the Lake Vermilion area”. “They have really listened to the local people about preserving access, and preserving the history of the Soudan mine, while still moving into this modern new park with all the bells and whistles.”

Great “bells and whistles” … that’s the legacy that Governor Pawlenty is leaving the state … plus a ton of debt.

Erika Rivers, DNR planner who is leading the Vermilion effort, said the DNR has not yet put a price tag on the total build-out over the next decade … some estimates say it could take another $30 million or more to finish the park.

The draft plan being considered includes :
–The park headquarters, interpretive center and primary day-use picnic and recreation area — with possible gift shops, boat and kayak rentals, a boat landing and restaurants — would be located on a peninsula between Matheson and Stuntz Bays.
–Boat-in campsites would be built separate from drive-in sites for kayak, houseboats and fishing boat campers.
– Ski, hiking and bike trails and “adventure areas” where newcomers can learn archery, mountain biking, geocaching, orienteering and other outdoor sports, would be scattered throughout the park.

Great !

The Legislature needs to ask itself : Is now the time ?
Should this be put off until a time when Minnesota is operating at a surplus … and after it has paid back it’s debts to the school districts ?

The Legislature is also going to face the question of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. It won’t cost the taxpayers a meager $30 million, but if they cannot properly manage this amount, how will they decide the larger amount that a Vikings stadium would cost.

Ironically, it is being discussed to use Federal highway money for early road development in 2011. Based on comments made by Eighth District Representative-elect Chip Cravaack who has discounted involvement by the Federal Government in other projects, this may be a pipedream.

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