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Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Hundreds of Millions in Pork in the 2018 Capital Investment Omnibus

All this spending eventually passed when rolled into a $1.5 billion dollar omnibus bill. Plus more:  The List: Hundreds of Millions of Pork in the $1.5 Billion 2018 Final Spending Bill only 7 Republicans Voted No

It was nearly 4pm yesterday when tax payers who subscribe to the Senate Capital Investment Committee got notified on what was in the Capital Investment omnibus bill. We are all notified that we can submit a short two minute testimony for AFTER session today.  

Why Thank you Minnesota legislators for the convoluted system where citizens can know what you're doing after you've made your back room deals for the last few months to get the monster omnibus bill where it is today. Like there's any hope something will get removed 11 days before session ends. No wonder tax and spending is so out of hand.  This omnibus has 85 pages of spending and over 3/4 of it is so horrible it would never pass if there was a floor vote and short discussion on every project. Here's my testimony I submitted with less than 24 hours to write where I picked out the most "what the hell are you thinking?" spending items: 

How wonderful to finally find out what's in this "Capital Investment" omnibus bill 11 days before session ends and get two minutes to testify after it looks like there is no hope to get any pork removed without risking it not passing for the 1/4 that is good (ie: spending for veterans and infrastructure). Last year (non-bonding year) you passed a billion dollar bonding bill. This 2018 CIP bill is no different. $1.18 billion in spending with most of it as debt. It's ridiculous the amount of insane projects are thrown into this free for all bill. Projects that local tax payers, not State tax payers should be funding if they are so desperately needed. That's the check and balance to unneeded spending. That, and the MN constitution that states to have one bill, one vote. No unconstitutional multi-subject bills like this.

It's appalling that so called fiscal conservative republican legislators would join the democrats on the smash and grab by adding and approving pet projects to this unsustainable reckless omnibus. It's one of many just like it with different titles to total over $40 billion dollars every two years. It's no wonder MN is the 2nd least tax friendly state.

Please read through what I consider the worst of the spending in your Capital Investment bill. You could start by axing the $25 million blank check you write to the un-elected Met Council... That's not including the over $200 million the transportation omnibus is accustomed to paying so they can back door fund light rail and other failed Mass transit corridors. Let cities plan their own sewers, parks, and transit... and let them pay for it too!

The List: 
-UofM $95.4 million yet tuition remains high and students are stuck with $1,000+ a month payments 
-$6.5 million to put solar panels on the University of Mankato and some renovations 
-Tens of million in trails locals should pay for. Just a few for example: 
          -$200k for a blufflands trail by the Iowa border
          -$2.5 for a Chester woods trail outside Rochester
          -$1.3 million for rec area in Babbitt (population 1,500)
          -$2.5 million for part three of trail in middle of nowhere La Crescent (population 4,800)
-$3,000,000 for the Minnesota Zoo Garden!
-$1 million for Amateur sports center in Blaine... seriously? that's a core function of Gov?
-$2.5 million dollar bus garage in Rochester
-$2 million dollar pedestrian/Bike bridge in the city of Rogers (pop. 11,000)
-$10 million to the unelected Met Council to build parks and trails as they want
-$2.5 to build facilities for park on Lake Waconia
-$2 million for swimming pool in New Hope
-$3 million Nature Sanctuary Visitor Center
-$4.4 million White Bear Lake trail around the lake an area with more millionaires concentrated around the lake than any other area in the County... but the State has to pay for it? 
-$8,800,000 for Sex offenders in St. Peter to pay for the second of unknown number of phases to renovate the campus, put in brand new air conditioning, new windows, remodeling, etc... how about let them stay in tents outside like military men and women have to abroad? 
-$18,000,000 for Brooklyn Park to build a food shelf (what a precedent, so every city getting one?)
-$5 million for Duluth trails 
-$12 million for Minneapolis to redevelop a Harbor Terminal for the public
-$4.4 million community center in Perham (pop. 3,000)
-$3 million for a food shelf in Crookston (pop. 7,900)
-$5 million St. Paul River Centre parking lot
-$5.5 million Southeast Asian Language Job Training Facility 
-$8.1 million for Wabasha to expand the Eagle Center (sounds like a city investment)
-$5 million dollar open air stage in Waite Park
-$18 million to renovate one visitor building (#18) in Fort Snelling
-$26 million for airports (yes, because millionaire airplane owners need assistance)
-$18 million to expand remote trails at some rural state parks
-$750,000 pedestrian bridge in Grand rapids 
-$6 million St. Paul MN museum of American Art

There's dozens and dozens of other projects... those are just a sample of what stood out to me.