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Mayo Clinic plan endorsed, drawing tears from key supporter

Posted by: under Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, State budgets Updated: May 18, 2013 - 2:09 PM

Mayo Clinic's proposed expansion in Rochester has brought one legislator to tears.

Late Friday night, a powerful tax committee patched together the final details of the tax proposal. A rare moment of exhilaration came as legislators finalized the state’s contribution to Mayo Clinic’s multibillion-dollar expansion in Rochester.

The complex and politically dicey subsidy appeared dead several times over the last several months, only to be miraculously resurrected in recent days.

When the committee gave its unanimous endorsement to the project, a rare wave of applause erupted in a room stuffed with groggy lobbyists, legislative staffers and tax watchers.

House Taxes Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, a relentless critic of the earlier funding plan, apologized “for being such a pest” throughout negotiations.

Republican Sen. Dave Senjem, a retired manager at Mayo and lead supporter of the project, walked over and gave a long hug to Rep. Kim Norton, a Rochester Democrat who also pushed the plan.

Tears streamed down his face as Senjem returned to his chair.
As a sign of Senjem’s devotion to the project, he is expected to vote for the DFL led tax bill — even the taxes that many in his party fiercely oppose.

Both the House and Senate still need to approve the overall tax bill, which includes the Mayo project. Gov. Mark Dayton took a personal interest in the project, directing his chief of staff to personally help guide the project to completion. His staff says he will sign the measure when it lands on his desk.
 

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