A bill aimed at making sure Rochester won’t be stuck paying more than $128 million for Destination Medical Center won unanimous support Monday from a Senate panel.
The legislation, sponsored by Rochester Republican Sen. Dave Senjem, requires any money spent on administrative costs related to DMC counts towards the city’s $128 million match.
“It really does make Destination Medical Center work. It is somewhat technical in nature, but if you are part of the Rochester City Council or the mayor, it’s incredibly important that this bill pass,” Senjem said.
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature approved the Destination Medical Center initiative, which seeks to transform Rochester into an international destination for health care. That plan includes $585 million in public funding for infrastructure to support Mayo Clinic’s planned $3.5 billion expansion over the next 20 years.
Senjem’s bill also gives the city more options for funding the administrative costs associated with DMC. Over the next five years, the Destination Medical Center Corp. and the Mayo-run DMC Economic Development Agency are projected to spend $21 million overseeing the project. It would enable city leaders to tap into funding options authorized under the DMC law to pay for those costs, including extending the city’s half-cent sales tax or raising the sales tax by a quarter of a cent. Otherwise, those costs would likely have to be paid for with city property tax money.
“It does not change the state’s contribution to the DMC plan, it just gives the city a little bit more flexibility in terms of how they pay for some of the necessary activities to make it go,” Rochester lobbyist Bradley Peterson told the committee.
The Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee approved the bill in less than seven minutes. It now heads to the Senate Taxes Committee. A similar measure, sponsored by Rochester DFL Rep. Kim Norton, is advancing in the House.