Posted: 05/27/16 15:34
by Dave Mindeman
Rep. Anna Wills is the House rep for Apple Valley and Rosemount. In her district is the Apple Valley Zoo - an asset for the city which brings in a large number of visitors and business. It is a state operated facility and depends on state bonding to maintain it.
There is always a huge disparity in funding for the Zoo regarding what comes out of the House bonding bill as compared to the Senate bill. Sen. Greg Clausen represents Apple Valley and Rosemount and under his representation, the Zoo has almost always met or come close to the requests it makes in the bonding bill.
This year the Zoo was requesting in the neighborhood of $23 or 24 million. The Senate bonding allocated about $21 million. The Senate bill got only 1 Republican vote - it needed 2 and failed to pass. But at least the Senate majority values the Zoo.
In the House, the Zoo is always an afterthought. The allocation in their original bill and in the final bill which they tried to slap through in the final hours had a total allocation for the Zoo of $4 million.
It was a complete slap in the face. In Rep. Anna Wills legislative update, she chastises the Senate, regarding bonding, this way:
I'm really disappointed that Senate Democrats decided to play a political game, and go back on an agreement that would have benefited so many communities across the state in significant ways. They chose funding for SouthWest Light Rail over a nearly $700 million investment in transportation infrastructure. It's unfortunate that Senate leadership chose to back Minnesotans into a corner over light rail.
That is the standard excuse for the House these days. No mention of the bill being brought to the floor in the final half hour. No mention of the language not being released until it was already being discussed. No mention of the Speaker trying to ram it through without amendment discussion. No, the talking point is that it was the Senate's fault.
But the real disappointment is the way Rep. Wills talks about the Zoo allocation....
On Sunday evening, we passed a Bonding bill with $696.5 million in funding for roads and bridges on a bipartisan vote of 91 to 39. Also included was $4 million in asset preservation for the Minnesota Zoo.
She fails to mention that this was woefully inadequate. That it is one of the lowest allocations in recent times. That it gives the Zoo no opportunity to act on their expansion projects.
I recently pointed this out with a Twitter posting....and Rep. Wills actually answered it. She says the $4 million was "better than zero".
Yeah, it is a number which is higher than zero. This is a true statement. But it is also not even close to the Senate allocation of $21 million. An amount that Sen. Clausen pushed in his caucus. That he was willing to fight for.
What does Rep. Wills fight for? I guess she fights for "better than zero".