State of the State

Gov. Tim Walz gave a different kind of State of the State speech Wednesday, one that wasn’t written down and read from a teleprompter. It focused a lot on ordinary people in Minnesota, whose stories Walz wanted to tell to illustrate his talking points.

Like his speech, Walz wants legislators and his administration to write a different kind of story, one that doesn’t dictate that they have to disagree, butt heads and wind up at an impasse when the legislative session ends May 20.

That would be a good story, but as long as the story is about what we as a state can do for each other, it is going to have to deal with how to pay for it, and how much. Maybe if the story Walz et al weave is spellbinding enough, taxpayers will gladly open their wallets a little wider and pay out an additional couple of billion. But we doubt it.

There’s one part of Walz’s story we did like. He pointed out the death and destruction that keeps occuring along Highway 14, and indicated the time has come to resolve that situation.

Interestingly, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt seems to think that issue has already been taken care of. In a comment to Minnesota Public Radio, he said, “That’s actually already been solved. We put the money into roads and bridges in the last biennium and actually solved that problem to reconstruct Highway 14 to make that a safer highway.”

Really?! Some money was put into Highway 14 through the Corridors of Commerce, enough to finish off the Dodge Center to Owatonna expansion, but the 12 miles from Nicollet to New Ulm remains unfunded, and not even on MnDOT’s long range plan.

There is a bill in the Legislature this session calling for $85 million in trunk highway bonding to finally complete the last portion of the project, all the way to New Ulm. We hope someone like Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) will show this bill to Rep. Daudt and explain to him the issues involved and the reasons he should be be supporting it.