I received a call today from a man in LeSueur. I had knocked on his door last weekend, and he told me he was fed up with the “crap” that the Republican Party was shoving in his mailbox and that I had his vote. He was probably referring to the negative ads citing spending for gorilla cages, polar bears, or sculpture gardens, all part of a recent capital investment bill. While I am not inclined to acknowledge what my opponents are up to, I will gladly provide some context to this piece of legislation.
The Senate’s version of the Capital Investment Bill is developed following hundreds of meetings that are held around the state. By the time it is heard on the Senate floor, it is a wide-ranging piece of legislation, which includes investments in public infrastructure throughout Minnesota. While it is easy to cherry-pick one or two items out of the hundreds included in these investment packages and criticize the vote, a look at the bigger picture reveals an investment in Minnesota while preserving past investments made by our citizens.
One could vote against the Como Zoo, the Ordway Theater and the sculpture garden in Minneapolis. But to do so, one would have to also vote against millions of dollars in investment for education, the environment, health care, our veterans, and the creation of more than 10,000 jobs. In and near my own district, the bonding bill included money for parks and trails, the Minnesota Valley Regional rail line, correctional facilities, and the deaf and blind academies. I staunchly support job creation via projects like these, no matter where in Minnesota they are located.
Among the hundreds of other items included in the capital investment bills were funds for the U of M, our state colleges, flood prevention, financing for infrastructure in rural Minnesota, improvements for roads and bridges, early childhood facilities, RIM (Reinvest in Minnesota), and vital dollars for our veterans homes. The Como Zoo project alone created more than 1,000 jobs.
When this bill was heard in the full Senate, I was part of a bipartisan landslide (57 ayes, 10 nays) that voted to pass it and send it to the Governor for his approval. The debt service on the bonds for these projects was well within the limits set to maintain our AAA bond rating as a state. With construction costs coming in under bid, interest rates at all time lows, this was the right time to invest in Minnesota and get people back to work.
I will continue to run a positive campaign and I will continue to welcome a phone call or two from my constituents who are ready to send me back to St. Paul. I look forward to working with them and for them.