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LETTER TO EDITOR: Governor's bonding bill includes Perham project

Gov. Tim Pawlenty upheld funding for the Perham incinerator expansion project when he trimmed the capital investment bill (H.F. 2700) by about $320 million Monday. He approved the remaining $680 million in funding.

The capital investment bill borrows money for construction projects throughout the state. It was very important to stay focused on essential borrowing this session since we face a $1 billion budget deficit. The idea was to focus on projects that create jobs, have state/regional significance, and/or preserve state assets; $5.075 million Perham project fits into the job-creating category. Veterans, military and public safety projects also received priority.

It was a rather bumpy ride for this bill. Pawlenty had said he would approve a bill of around $700 million but the Legislature twice this session passed bills at $1 billion. The first time the bill passed the majority pulled some parliamentary gymnastics by withholding it from the governor, who had promised to veto it. The bill went into a conference committee to apparently be trimmed down to size, but it remained at $1 billion as it passed the Legislature a second time, so the governor cut back some spending himself to help us live within our means.

The single-largest line-item veto is $43.5 million from transit funding. A host of other projects eliminated range from higher education to civic centers and sculpture gardens.

Some would say the bill should have been reduced even further, but we successfully negotiated our way to a more affordable, responsible bill and still provided funding for those essential projects.

State Rep. Mark Murdock