By Mike Kaszuba
Eight days ago, Rep. Mark Murdock, a Republican freshman legislator from Ottertail, voted against a $1 billion public works bill that DFLers, unions, schools and many local governments had wanted.
But Murdock said he scored a victory three days later when, via a telephone call with House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, he was able to make sure that Gov. Tim Pawlenty kept $5 million in the bill for a resource recovery facility in Perham in his district.
While Pawlenty eliminated many projects from the bill last Sunday, leaving many angry, Murdock said he was pleased with the outcome and did not see any inconsistency in his actions. "I took a ‘No’ vote against wasteful spending," said Murdock, in explaining his vote against the overall legislation.
The Perham project was different, he said. Because four surrounding counties would be sending their solid waste to the plant, said Murdock, the project met the governor’s requirement that it have regional significance.
"I went to work and started working on [Pawlenty’s aides], and eventually with Kurt Zellers to keep it in," he said. "Perseverance pays off."
Zellers said he talked to Murdock before meeting with Pawlenty on Sunday. "It was before I went over and the governor just gave us kind of a quick briefing on what he was planning on doing," Zellers said. Zellers said he met with Pawlenty’s aides to make sure the governor included "some of the key projects that we wanted."