Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Chopping block ready

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Jesse Ventura waved his budget-cutting sword Friday, threatening to chop more construction projects out of a bill Minnesota lawmakers are expected to pass today.

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Jesse Ventura waved his budget-cutting sword Friday, threatening to chop more construction projects out of a bill Minnesota lawmakers are expected to pass today.

"I'll be Samurai Governor," Ventura said Friday, joining his hands, raising his arms above his head and bringing them down in a chopping motion.

The convincing impersonation of comedian John Belushi in a "Saturday Night Live" routine followed the release of a list containing

$240 million worth of projects he proposes to chop.

"The list you saw is Phase 1," Ventura said. "There could be a Phase 2 or Phase 3."


Projects already on Ventura's chopping block range from the Trollwood Performing Arts School in Moorhead to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, from a Ridgewater Community College science laboratory in Willmar to local road projects across the state.

A list Ventura aides gave to Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, shows he would reduce the legislative plan to borrow $880 million to fund projects to less than $640 million.

Langseth, co-chairman of a House-Senate conference committee considering the funding bill, presided over a Friday afternoon and evening meeting in which details of the construction bill were worked out.

The bill is expected to pass the full House and Senate today, this afternoon or tonight. The Legislature may work through the afternoon and well into the night on the bonding bill, perhaps overriding an expected Ventura veto of a budget-balancing bill and finishing its work for the year.

The House and Senate plan to begin work at 3 p.m. today, giving them a chance to override a potential budget bill veto. Ventura aides say he will decide what to do with the budget-balancing bill early this afternoon.

Lawmakers must adjourn Monday, but cannot pass bills or override vetoes then. If work is not completed today, legislators will be forced to convene the first Sunday session in at least 60 years.

Once it is passed, Ventura has two weeks to decide whether to veto projects in the construction bill.

Two years ago, he used an ink stamp with a pig image when he vetoed projects he thought were not of statewide or regional significance. On Friday, he said the pig stamp has been on his desk throughout this legislative session.


Most projects in the districts served by Langseth and his House bonding counterpart, Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, would be stripped from the bill under Ventura's threats. In Langseth's district, the only remaining project would be $19 million for a science addition at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Ventura said he was not trying to retaliate against the chairmen for not funding a commuter rail line between Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

"I am not the type of person who does that," Ventura said. "It will be on the merits."

Ventura wants at least $50 million spent for Northstar.

Since legislators did not get the bonding bill ready in time to override any vetoes, Ventura has the final say on what projects are funded. Ventura's desires won't play into what legislators do, one bonding committee member said.

"He's got the power to do it," Sen. Cal Larson, R-Fergus Falls, said about the vetoes. "We will do what we think is right."

However, Larson said, "he will have to justify it" if he runs for re-election.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707

What To Read Next
A Sanford doctor says moderate cold exposure could be the boost people need for their day.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack explains the differences between Alzheimer's, dementia and other common forms of dementia.
While the United States government gave help to businesses and people, a lack of assistance has left some Chinese citizens angry and destitute.