Luke Hellier is upset that the DFL didn’t write up a bonding bill that’s perfectly matched with Governor Pawlenty’s wishes. In fact, he calls the bill “bloated.” Hellier itemizes the bloat on his blog. Based on his list, it’s pretty clear that Luke’s not a fan of state funded trail systems or zoos.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of trails since they help people stay healthy, enjoy the state, and may even bring money into the state. Zoos? I’m not a huge fan, but let’s put the spending in perspective before criticizing further.
To get a feel for the scope of Hellier’s grievance, I’ve taken his itemization of DFL “bloat” and broken it out in the pie chart below:
The big blue slice is the stuff that the left and right generally agree upon. The other fine slices are the funding for trails and zoos that Hellier objects to. It seems pretty clear that Hellier largely agrees with the direction of the budget since his complains account for less than 5% of the budget. If we’re arguing over how to spend 5%, we’re on the right track.
Now, here’s where I think this gets a bit more interesting. Hellier itemized the costs of the funding the DFL stuck in the bill that he disagrees with while whining about the exclusion of some projects on Pawlenty’s wishlist. Strangely, Hellier didn’t include price tags for Pawlenty’s projects on his blog posts. Apparently, in Luke Hellier’s world, DFL projects cost money while GOP projects do not. Here in the reality based community, I looked up the cost of each of those projects (at a high level, Pawlenty likes to lock up more people than the USSR) to see what the DFL chopped. Then I threw those into a chart against Luke Hellier’s so-called DFL bloat. Here’s what I found:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like Pawlenty’s wish list would cost Minnesota’s taxpayers more money than the DFL’s wish list.
While I haven’t been following this stuff closely, it seems like the DFL may have decided that we’re better off building trails that keep Minnesotans healthy, and zoos that help us learn about the animal kingdom rather than acting like a police state. In addition to being a healthier and better informed state, we’ll save $70 million.
This seems reasonable to me.
Perhaps Pawlenty agrees with the DFL, since he skipped negotiations where he could have fought for the projects Hellier thinks are important to Pawlenty.