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Pawlenty cuts bonding bill by $320 million

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty this morning trimmed a nearly $1 billion public works funding bill down to $680 million, saying the one passed by legislators was too big.

While the Republican governor's spokesman said the administration is willing to take a look at a second public works bill, also known as a bonding bill, Democrats in charge of the legislative bonding process said they could not get the votes to pass another one and do not trust Pawlenty.

Pawlenty's line-item vetoes will be the last chance he has to deal with a public works bill, Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon said. Langseth, chairman of the Senate public works panel, said he will wait until next year, and a new governor, to write another bill.

"He basically massacred the bill," Langseth said.

"I am deeply disappointed the bill still spends nearly $1 bill despite my repeated and pointed warning that I would not sign a bill of this magnitude," Pawlenty wrote to lawmakers.

Many of Pawlenty's vetoes came to Minnesota Colleges and Universities system projects. Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said despite MnSCU's enrollment three times that of the University of Minnesota, Pawlenty erased enough projects so MnSCU will have about the same amount of money that the university can spend.

Pawlenty vetoed 16 MnSCU projects, compared to two for the university.

Among the biggest vetoes was one for $43.5 million for Twin Cities transit projects.

Most recreation projects were vetoed, although Pawlenty did save a Rochester volleyball center and a Blaine women's hockey project.

Read more on this story Tuesday in the West Central Tribune.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.