Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Central Corridor Pawn Is Back In Play

From the Star-Tribune:

The Central Corridor light-rail line, which has become a pawn in back-and-forth negotiation, is back in a budget proposal made by Gov. Tim Pawlenty today.

In exchange, Pawlenty proposed including two of his own pet projects in any final budget solution: a nursing facility at the Minneapolis Veterans Home and a new state park on Lake Vermilion.

In announcing his new budget proposal, Pawlenty said it moved negotiations “within the range of the doable” as a May 19 adjournment deadline looms for the Legislature.

Pawlenty’s inclusion of the Central Corridor line between Minneapolis and St. Paul comes with caveats, though. DFL legislative leaders must agree that the state’s construction costs for the project be capped at 10 percent or $91 million, whichever is less. Pawlenty also wants the costs of operating the line once its is constructed to be capped at 50 percent.

The governor also called for a cap on property taxes. That's an idea he has floated before, but Democrats have opposed it.

The offers are part of broad negotiations whose objectives include erasing the state's projected $936 million budget deficit.

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