This morning, House Democrats unveiled an $800 million bonding proposal that includes $35 million for the Mayo Civic Center expansion. House Capital investment Committee Chairwoman Alice Hausmen noted during the committee's hearing on the plan that in 2009 Rochester leaders wrote a letter stating the civic center was an "important component" of Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.
"I think this is kind of the first step that we can take toward meeting that vision," Hausman said.
But Rochester lawmakers and city officials have been making the case that the Mayo Civic Center and Mayo Clinic's request for $585 million in state support to fund public infrastructure upgrades in the city are separate projects and should not be lumped together.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Matt Dean, criticized Democrats for not recognizing the difference.
"Saying we are doing something in Rochester, so that equals Destination Medical Community — that ain't the same thing. It probably ain't the same thing for the Mayo Clinic and the city of Rochester," he said.
He also noted the neither the governor's bonding bill proposal nor the House Democrats' plan has funding for the DMC project.
The governor did say he was willing to put money into his bonding plan for the DMC project depending on how lawmakers decide to move ahead with the plan. At this point, Mayo Clinic is pushing for the state to authorize the state to sell $585 million in appropriation bonds, which would be separate from the bonding bill.
Hausman has said previously that the $60 million included in the House bonding bill for projects in Rochester and Olmsted County — including the civic center — should count towards the state's share of the DMC plan. She fears the current plan to authorize borrowing for the whole project upfront could end up hurting the state's ability to borrow money for other projects in the future.