Ernie Leidiger votes against creating 15,000 jobs

One of the conditions Governor Mark Dayton placed on his acceptance of the Republican budget offer was the addition of a bonding bill.  In a bonding bill, the state issues bonds (debt) that is used to build capital projects around the state. 

If you’re going to be issuing debt as a state, bonding for capital projects — infrastructure — is the best possible thing you can do with that debt.  And now, with the economic downturn, is an even better time to invest heavily in infrastructure.  It has the immediate impact of getting people back to work, and it creates lasting projects that can serve as the basis for future growth.  Additionally, you can build infrastructure more cheaply now than you can when times are good.  Why?  Because interest rates are low (so it costs you less to issue the bonds) and there’s a lot of excess capacity in the construction industry (so you can get a good deal on your bids for the projects).

Governor Dayton and the Republican majority agreed on a bonding package of $531 million.  It’s full of great projects, including:

  • $51 million for a new Physics and Nanotechnology building at the University of Minnesota
  • $48.7 million for new science facilities at St. Cloud State University, Metropolitan State University and Mesabi Range Community College
  • $16 million to renovate the Coon Rapids Dam, including construction of an invasive species barrier
  • $50 million for flood mitigation
  • $33 million in local bridge replacement
  • $22.5 million in Twin Cities and greater Minnesota transit

These are projects that are going to have beneficial long-term impacts on our state.  It’s hard to pinpoint the exact number of jobs that will be created by these investments, but using historical rates, a $531 million level of investment will result in about 15,000 new jobs.  15,000 new jobs would shave half a percent off of the state’s current unemployment rate, reducing it to 6%.

Who could be opposed to such a common-sense proposition?  Rep. Ernie Leidiger of Mayer, that’s who.  Leidiger was one of only 16 representatives to vote no on the bonding bill.  Most Republicans, including Chaska’s Rep. Joe Hoppe and Chanhassen’s Sen. Julianne Ortman, recognized the value of this bill and voted in favor of it.

Undoubtedly, Leidiger will cite the issuance of more debt as his rationale for opposing the bill.  But Leidiger — on the same day — voted for over $1.3 billion in debt that is really harmful to Minnesota’s economy.  Leidiger voted for a $700 million shift in K-12 education payments that puts the state IOU to its schools at $2 billion.  Leidiger also voted to issue bonds against future tobacco settlement revenues.  To raise $640 billion in revenue for this biennium, the state is going to have to spend between $800 and $900 million dollars.   These moves are debt of the worst kind — they hurt our schools and create holes in the state budget in future years without providing any of the long-term benefit of the infrastructure projects.

Leidiger’s “no” vote on the bonding bill is a vote against moving Minnesota forward, and is yet another demonstration of his willingness to blindly vote ideology over the real world needs of his constituents.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Roomin’ with the Rep: You Can Journey to Ernie’s House | Brick City Blog - January 5, 2012

    […] the GOP’s exciting plans for the next legislative session!  Or getting an explanation for voting against new science and technology facilities at state colleges.  Maybe he’ll tell you why he flip-flopped on K-12 funding shifts.  It would be like your […]

  2. Hypocrisy, eviction, lawsuits and porn: what does the business career of Rep. Ernie Leidiger mean? | Brick City Blog - August 16, 2012

    […] of public education in his career in the legislature.  Leidiger has voted against the last two bonding bills in the State House, both of which had vital projects in both the MnSCU and […]

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