Minnesota lawmakers are reworking Mayo Clinic's request for $585 million in state money for part of a proposed $6 billion, 20-year plan to transform Rochester into a city befitting its world-class medical center.
Lawmakers have been scrutinizing the proposal, which includes money for transit and transportation that might better be funded in other ways, Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington and chairwoman of the House Tax Committee, told the Pioneer Press after a hearing of the Mayo Clinic bill on Wednesday.
And Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, says Mayo's list of projects includes parks, atriums and other projects characterized as amenities, not "infrastructure" as Mayo describes it, the newspaper reports.
Earlier in the Minnesota legislative session, Mayo had unveiled one of the most ambitious private-public proposals the state has ever seen – a massive improvement effort designed to better accomodate Mayo growth and offer visitors more urban amenities.
There was talk of a "satisfaction gap" – visitors find Rochester lacking, Mayo officials said, at a time when Mayo aims to maintain its reputation as a global health care destination.
But lawmakers have been cool to spending so much state money on a city project, even when it is home to the state's top employer. Mayo has kept up the pressure. On Tuesday, Mayo President Dr. John Noseworthy said 49 other states would love to be its home, a not-subtle hint that Mayo would look to expand elsewhere unless the Minnesota buys into its plan.
That ticked off a few lawmakers. Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, was irked that Noseworthy flew off to the National Press Club to "wag his finger at the Minnesota Legislature.” Lesch said his support for the plan fell after Noseworthy’s comments, Forum Communications reports.