Saturday, August 4, 2007

More on Spending in Minnesota

First, I would like to say that I am not picking on Minnesota as if it's tax dollar waste is significantly different than any other state. God knows, this bridge tragedy could have happened on any number of the thousands of bridges in the country known to be "deficient" in any other state, all of which have wasted transportation dollars on special projects rather than critical areas of improvement.

However, the point still needs to be made, especially while some fringe elements attempt to pin the blame on the federal government.

Fringe elements like U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, who suggested that spending on the Iraq war was to blame, calling it "messed up priorities." Never mind, that as we previously pointed out, her state took home nearly a half a billion in federal transportation earmarks in the bloated $250 billion federal transportation bill of 2005, marking only $27.2 million for I-35 projects in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, but $48 million for nature trails, largely in sparsely populated northern Minnesota.

Speaking of northern Minnesota, U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, a Democrat who represents the sparsely populated 8th congressional district, attempted to blame President George W. Bush's administration. He stated that road and bridge repair was shortchanged in the 2005 highway funding bill. This, despite the fact that his district secured:
  • $900,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail from Grand Marais (pop. 1,353) to Cascade River (population less than 50).
  • $500,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail in Lutsen (pop 360).
  • $1,500,000 for a portion of the Gitchi-Gami nature trail in Silver Bay (pop 2,068).
    $892,000 for a nature trail linking Two Harbors High School with the town of Two Harbors (pop 3,613).
  • $2,500,000 for an extension of the Munger nature trail in Duluth (pop 86,918).
  • $235,000 for extensions to the Mesabi nature trail in Aurora (pop 2,500).
  • $1,500,000 for the Ely Area Joint Public Works Complex in the city of Ely (pop 3,724).
  • $2,700,000 for the Mesabi nature trail between Grand Rapids (pop 7,764) and Ely.
  • $1,300,000 for a "recreational visitors center" on the Mesabi nature trail in Virginia (pop 9,157).
  • $471,000 for the Edge of Wilderness Discovery Center in Marcell (pop less than 50).
  • $540,000 for a bike trail along route 11 to (but not in) Voyageurs National Park. Closest town, International Falls (pop 6,703).
  • $560,000 for the Paul Bunyan nature trail from Walker (pop 1,069) to Bemidiji (pop 11,917).

And that's just his nature trail pork, which adds up to $13,598,000. By the way, all were listed as "high-priority" projects...speaking of "messed up priorities."

It seems to me the only ones getting shortchanged are the 3,500,000 residents who drive to work, school and home every day in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area by the nature trail pork loving representative of the 8th district.

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