Are you paying attention to what is happening with the Minnesota State Government in Saint Paul? If not you should be because it’s starting to get ridiculous. For a moment lets ignore the do-nothing helmet law introduced last week, and instead take a look at what has happened this week shall we?
The new Republican led legislature has made one thing abundantly clear, the sky is falling and the state of Minnesota is flat broke and can’t rub two pennies together. This means that everyone needs to give back a little and sacrifice equally.
This we understand and even to a certain extent agree with, collective belt-tightening, is a cathartic exercise and a way to look at what is truly important to us. That is why we didn’t previously mention the fact that on Tuesday the Minnesota House Committee that approves money to build government facilities voted to call back $59 million in already approved projects, containing many alternative transportation projects, including rail lines and two different bicycle paths. But yesterday’s report in MinnPost about a new Vikings stadium has us re-thinking our tolerance for “shared-pain”.
First, let’s take a look at the two proposed projects (relevant to our site) that are currently on the chopping block;
1) $950,000 for the Mesabi Trail, connecting Bear Head Lake and Vermilion State parks, in between Tower and Ely MN.
2) $1.5 Million for the Heartland Trail between Detroit Lakes and Frazee, MN.
Speaking honestly, we might never put a tire down on either of these two paths (assuming that they get finished) which might be why we didn’t raise a stink about their potential elimination. Having said that, combined the less than two and a half million dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s projected $5 billion dollar shortfall. Keep in mind, these aren’t proposed projects being rejected, they are projects (often part of much larger systems) which have already been approved and funded.
Yesterday we learned that a bill for the new Vikings stadium, which might cost as much as one billion dollars, could be introduced as early as next week. Despite the fact that we like to watch football, this is another venue which we aren’t likely to utilize anytime soon.
It is likely that the call for the return of funds will not pass the full Minnesota Legislature as well as sneak by the Governor’s veto power, which is good news. Having said that, however, what message does this send?
To us, it says that even in a state concerned with rising health costs we would rather de-fund $2.45 million in projects that will create additional recreational spaces for physical activity, so that we can fund $1 billion for our other favorite recreation, sitting on our butts, watching other people exercise.
Hopefully, the legislature will prove us wrong.