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"We wouldn't be in this situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul if we had adequate funds," Murphy said. "But the governor wouldn't bend."
No cash to cover costs
Legislators say they are concerned that if federal bridge funds get bogged down in Washington, the state will have stuck its neck out for $195 million with no cash to cover those costs other than what's already been allocated to needed transportation projects.
"I think it's very dicey," said Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids, who heads the House Ways and Means Committee. "I'd be very cautious about giving authority to spend money that's not there yet."
Solberg, who sits on the legislative commission, said he considered the MnDOT request "strange," and recalled that in post-collapse bridge hearings, MnDOT officials had assured legislators that the department could handle the emergency.
"I want to cooperate with the governor," Solberg said. "I want to see the bridge built. But I won't put the state in financial jeopardy."
Kelliher said in her statement that the administration's proposal for authorizing funds is "a new and untried process" that by law must include an analysis of long-term effects on the trunk highway fund.
While the bridge collapse requires a speedy response, she said, "we also need to make sure that MnDOT is properly managed and operating with the necessary oversight in place to restore public trust.
In a hint of the legislative scrutiny to come, Kelliher said, "we have numerous questions that will be asked over the next few days regarding this request."
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