A predictable howl from Republican legislators arose within minutes Thursday of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement that he had done what the Legislature directed him to do – divvy up an allotted $47.5 million in bonding authority among bonding requests far exceeding that number.
The outcry from Republican legislators amounted to “You did it wrong!”
Dayton was faulted for directing too much of the total pot to a proposed St. Paul Saints ballpark, even though it scored highest in its region in a state agency analysis of competing projects’ economic benefit. He was faulted for omitting civic center projects in Mankato, St. Cloud and Rochester, even though legislators themselves twice rejected Dayton’s proposals to provide funding for those improvements.
Legislature watchers knew it would be thus. The whole unconventional idea of assigning some bonding authority to the executive branch seemed intended to put a DFLer on the receiving end of the disappointment that a too-small bonding bill was bound to produce. Once they put him there, Republicans would gladly lead a chorus of second-guessers.
Dayton asked for a $1 billion bonding bill in 2011 and $750 million in 2012. He got half of what he sought in 2011 and two-thirds of his proposed projects this year. Assigning Dayton to allot the last $47.5 million of this year's bill always looked like a way for legislators to avoid making tough decisions themselves.
Legislators who hailed executive branch bonding decisions as “reform” in May were among the chief howlers Thursday. A better reform idea might be for them to do their jobs themselves next time.
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