Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anyone else see any major disconnects here?

First read this, then this, then this...

Then, read this:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday the state (READ: TAXPAYERS--ed) may be willing to pay the extra $20 million to $30 million it would cost to include light-rail transit on the Interstate 35W bridge.

Pawlenty's comments came after nearly two weeks of debate and division among state, Minneapolis and federal officials over whether the replacement for the collapsed span should be built with the potential to carry light rail.

Before Pawlenty's comments, Minneapolis officials modified their stance, saying the bridge should have light-rail capacity but need not be built specifically for the Central Corridor line, which is to connect downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The city's role could be pivotal because, under state law, it will be asked to provide "municipal consent" for the bridge design.

A disagreement over light rail could stall the project for months, jeopardizing the state's plans to push for completion by the end of 2008.

In Pawlenty's strongest statement of support for light rail since the bridge collapse Aug. 1, he said Friday on his weekly radio show: "It does appear from an engineering standpoint, we can build the bridge ... to be LRT-capable. I've sent signals to the mayor, and he's signaled back that the LRT piece is a significant consideration."

Pawlenty was referring to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

Rybak has pushed to have light rail on the new span. Its price tag without light-rail readiness is estimated at $250 million or more.

Lately, Pawlenty is becoming harder to read than a Chinese menu.

For instance, take a look at this.

A note to Minnesota's Taxpayers:

Get ready to bend over and take another one up the keester. It appears that our governor is more than willing to let it happen.

Hear that PFFFT! sound?

That's the sound of all the progress made by our side in the 2007 legislative session, going up in a puff of smoke.

Congrats, Governor. You're well on your way to sending the conservative cause in Minnesota back to the stone age.


Fortunately, we do have some stalwarts in the MN legislature who are continuing to fight the good fight:

(from a press release dated today)

Seifert Challenges Democrat Budget Priorities

SAINT PAUL – (August 17, 2007) -- House Republican Leader Marty Seifert (R-Marshall) questioned the priorities of House Democrats today after DFLers doubled their committee budgets.

Seifert’s comments came on the heels of the DFL-controlled Rules Committee approving a near 100 percent increase in the House Committee budgets. The original budget increased from $324,000 to $646,000.

“This gross increase in legislative bureaucracy is excessive and unnecessary,” said House Republican Leader Marty Seifert. “I am shocked the House Democrats doubled their own budget at a time when families are trying to pay their property taxes and live within their means. We need investments in Minnesota, not investments in the Legislature.”

The House Rules Committee also approved a 7.75% pay raise for House employees, retroactive to August 1, 2007. In addition, Democrats approved additional pay increases to staff for 2008.

"I don't know a lot of regular, hard working Minnesotans getting back-to-back pay raises within a year,” Seifert said. "When I talk to truckers, waitresses and secretaries, I know that they are not getting these types of raises."

Another concern to Seifert is that House Democrats increased legislators’ gas payments for inner district travel. Under the formula, one rural Democrat lawmaker could take home over $1600 each month in district mileage.

"I find it ironic that the people who are trying the hardest to raise the price of gas by increasing gas taxes are the first to meet at the capitol and give themselves protection by raising their gas mileage payments, courtesy of the state treasury" Seifert said.

Seifert said he was very concerned about the timing and notice of the committee hearing. The hearing was held in a conference room without televised capability with inadequate notice to the public and little opportunity for public testimony.

"I think if the average person knew what Democrats were doing with their money, they would be outraged. Unfortunately, the Democrats think this is what voters want. They are absolutely wrong." Seifert said.