Governor Mark Dayton issued his bonding bill proposal, a wish list of nearly $1 billion in projects he says will create tens of thousands of jobs in the state. Like a letter to Santa Claus, it contains a lot of really neat stuff, but stuff that Santa (or Mom and Dad) probably can't afford.
It's up to the Legislature to play the role of parents here, go through the list carefully and try not to max out the state's credit card.
There are a lot of things that need to be done on the list, some things that should be done at some point, and some that just aren't necessary.
The governor has included $126.3 million to complete the restoration of the State Capitol. This is something the state needs to do, at some point. We cannot let our State Capitol, a historic and architectural gem, continue to molder and decay. We're not sure the whole project has to be funded now, but it should be funded sometime.
The same with road and bridge projects. The governor has included $79 million for that. The state has been falling behind for years, and playing catchup is a very expensive game. Another $70 million is earmarked for water filtration and treatment projects. This is important, especially for small towns that don't have the tax base to pay for major improvements.
The governor has called for $233 million in labs, classrooms and other improvements for the state's university system and the U of M. These are "should do" projects, if we can get the money for them. Money invested in higher education will certainly pay off later for the state.
But do we need to pay for various civic centers around the state, Nicollet Mall improvements, and the Children's Museum improvements? Local municipalities should be able to pay for their own projects.