Mayo Clinic, state officials seek funding Plan B

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, March 21, 2013

ROCHESTER — Mayo Clinic officials are working with lawmakers to come up with a Plan B to pay for its Destination Medical Center proposal amid criticism about the current plan, which would require more than $500 million in state support.

Critics include House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who’s worried about setting a bad precedent because the bill calls for capturing some of the clinic’s sales and income taxes to fund public infrastructure, something the state has not done before.

Last week, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton called the current financing plan “almost unfeasible.”

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The bill’s author, Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said that Lenczewski has asked her to work with Mayo officials, lawmakers and state staffers to come up with alternative funding options. Norton said she’s doing that and that she remains optimistic the bill can pass.

A Republican backer of the project, Rep. Greg Davids, from Preston, said he fears time is running out. He accused the governor of only paying “lip service” to the project and the DFL leadership of being “timid.”

“If they are going to kill the Mayo DMC (bill), I want people to understand exactly what happened. So I am calling for action today to try and move this process forward, because we can make this work,” he said.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he shares some of Lenczewski’s concerns, but considers himself a strong supporter of Mayo’s expansion.

“I very much want to see these investments made in Rochester, but I want to do it in a way that also protects the interests of the state of Minnesota,” he said.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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