Dessert or Vegetables
The Strib has another article today on the fallout of not passing a bonding bill this year. The gist is that by not passing a bonding bill, Minnesota will be missing out on a good deal of money from the federal government. This is certainly true. What makes it worse is that Minnesota gets relatively little money from the federal government in the first place. As the Tax Foundation points out, Minnesota gets only 77¢ for every dollar we send to the federal government. This is not uncommon among the blue states, while the small-government Republican red states love to nurse at the federal government teat (Alabama $1.64 for every dollar sent to Washington, Mississippi $1.89, Montana $1.67, and so on).
What gets to me about this situation is how the bonding bill is referred to once again by some of the players as "dessert" that must be done last. Sure, there is definitely some pork in the bill (take a look here if you so desire, PDF file). The bonding bill is typically used to help vulnerable candidates who are running for re-election, and there is evidence of that in this bill: $18 million for a hockey arena in Bemidji is a prime example. However, there is a lot in the bill that isn't pork. Asset preservation for the U of M and MnSCU, DNR initiatives for flood mitigation and land acqusition, closed landfill bonding...all of these are expenses that any responsible person would see more as necessities than as nice-to-haves. Delaying the repair of a U of M building for a few years isn't going to make the expense go away, it is going to increase it. Ditto for many other projects in the bill.
I am certain that people are referring to the bonding bill as "dessert" because it would probably be easiest to dispose of during a special session, at which point the legislature could just go home. For those people who are obsessed with putting a constitutional amendment in front of the voters dealing with the sexual lives of some Minnesotans, passing the bonding bill and going home is not a good thing. They want to see a long, drawn-out debate on gay marriage and other social issues. It's too bad that necessary projects, and not just desserts, are held hostage by a tiny minority.