With the passing of one of the least celebrated holidays on our 2008 calendars, Groundhog’s Day, it is now time for Minnesotans to turn their attention to the next momentous event of the year, the start of the 2008 Legislative Session. The start of the Legislative Session will likely receive the same fanfare and celebration as did the actions of Punxsutawney Phil on February 2nd.
As we prepare for the opening of the 2008 legislative session, it’s time to muse about what action or inaction may occur with the return of state lawmakers to St. Paul. Will Senator Pogemiller see his shadow? And if he does, will there be another six weeks of meaningless transportation working groups? These are all questions to ponder as the debate about taxes, transportation and fishing openers begins in earnest on February 12th.
One scenario for the 2008 session could follow closely the plot of the 1993 comedy film “Groundhog’s Day” starring Bill Murray.
Like Yogi Berra once said, “its déjà vu all over again.” And so it is with the proposal for the Central Corridor light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul; a project whose current estimate sits at $1.25 billion. But if the construction histories of the Hiawatha light rail line and the Northstar Commuter rail line are any indication, in five years we could be wistfully looking back at the $1.25 billion price tag and think that a billion dollar boondoggle was a bargain.
Last week, Governor Pawlenty issued a stern warning: unless planners can cut the cost of building the Central Corridor light rail line down to $840 million, he is threatening to withdraw his support. This would be a good outcome, but unlikely.