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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Be grateful, you fools-the Legislature has acted! Part II

And this review from Taxpayers League of Minnesota of our representatives in St. Paul and what the lack of constitutional restraint has yielded:

April 5, 2006

The Minnesota Legislature is rushing headlong into another billion dollar bonding season.

What will we be getting for our billion dollars?

Beyond the biggest and most obvious boondoggles, such as $50 to $60 million for the Northstar Corridor rail project, or the $7 to $15 million for greater Minnesota business development (huh?), there are a ton of wonderful little goodies buried in either the House or Senate bonding bill, or both.

“My personal favorite boondoggle is the $11 million for the Schubert Theater tucked away in both the House and Senate bonding bills, said David Strom, President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. The most expensive building move in history has bought us a rotting hulk in Downtown Minneapolis. Now they are going to throw good money after bad to restore yet another money-losing theater.

Taxpayers may recall all the promises to restore the theater entirely with privately donated funds. And the price of the restoration project has increased by a whopping 67% since first proposed! The current cost of restoring the theater will be $41,222 per seat one of the costliest restorations ever, anywhere. Restoring the Orpheum Theater in St Paul cost less than $4000 per seat.

Other boondoggles tucked away into the Bonding Bills? Taxpayers are being asked to pay for: the Bloomington Ski Jump, the Hennepin County Center for Changing Lives, a raft of community centers, a Southwest Regional Events Center, a Como Zoo Gorillas/Polar Bear exhibit, a Rochester Volleyball Center, and of course between $7 and $20 million for an Itasca County Steel Mill (since when has government been in the steel milling business?).

“Legislators are trying to buy their way back into the good graces of the voters. What makes the process so galling is that they are using taxpayer dollars to do so, said Strom.

“This bonding bill is looking like a giant taxpayer rip-off. The Legislature should go back to the principles outlined in the Governor'’s bonding proposal, sticking to projects of statewide or at least regional significance. Theaters, community centers, and Centers for ‘changing lives’ don'’t meet that test, Strom concluded.

The Taxpayers League is Minnesota's largest taxpayers advocacy organization.


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