Rochester leaders reacted with disappointment to a $975 million public works proposal unveiled Tuesday by House Democrats because it allocates $7 million less for the Mayo Civic Center expansion than had been requested.
The bonding bill allocates $30 million for the project while DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's list of bonding recommendations fully funded the project.
"I'm disappointed with that," Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said. "We'll have to see. It's not a done deal. We'll continue to push."
House Capital Investment Committee Chairwoman Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said the funding total for the civic center is "by no means the end of the conversation."
This is the eighth-straight year Rochester has sought funding for a 188,000-square-foot expansion of the Mayo Civic Center. The plan calls for adding state-of-the-art construction space to the facility with the goal of attracting national and international conferences to the city. The city asked the state for $37 million. Funding for the rest of the $81 million project would come from a 3-percentage point increase in the city's lodging tax that already has taken effect.
Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, responded to news about the lower-than-requested Mayo Civic Center funding number with the following tweet: "Disappointed. May not vote for it."
Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said she will attempt to amend the bill to bring the Mayo Civic Center funding up to $34 million. She said the biggest struggle has been fellow lawmakers telling her Rochester already has gotten more than its fair share of funding for Destination Medical Center.
"I get the same response, 'You got DMC.' So I know it's going to be an uphill battle," Norton said.