This St. Cloud Times article reads like a Dayton administration press release. Here’s the newsy part of the Dayton press release:

Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement Thursday that up to $46 million will be spent as soon as summer to expand Interstate Highway 94 between Rogers and St. Michael is extremely welcome news.

As Dayton and Minnesota Department of Transportation Charlie Zelle noted in meeting with this board prior to the announcement, these bonding dollars are not just a down payment on expanding this critical corridor all the way to St. Cloud, but in providing the funding necessary to maintain and expand roads and highways statewide.

Nowhere in the Dayton press release did they talk about the Dayton administration’s disapproval for the expansion project when they attempted to thwart Michele Bachmann’s proposal:

But Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said the I-94 widening doesn’t rank high on the agency’s long-term list of priority projects. “There are projects like this all across the state — really good projects, really important projects, projects that have tremendous support like this,” he said. “It all really boils down to the funding piece.”

It’s clear that the Dayton administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Here’s how the Times attempts to spin this project:

The focus of Corridors of Commerce is to improve roads that are bottlenecked or considered critical to regional economic development but not funded under MnDOT’s latest “fiscally constrained” 20-year transportation plan.

That’s insulting. MnDOT’s budget isn’t “fiscally constrained.” It’s politically constrained, especially when Michele Bachmann was trying to get I-94 expanded. Back then, MnDOT said directly that I-94 expansion didn’t “rank high on the agency’s…priority projects.” Back then, MnDOT’s spokesman hinted that the expansion ranked behind “really important projects.”

Gov. Dayton’s facade is that of a nice guy. When politics are involved, he’s a sharp-elbowed ideologue. I’m betting that he’s only supporting the I-94 expansion to get support for a massive tax increase to pay for his light rail projects. Minnesotans are taxed too much already. The last thing we need is to raise taxes to support failed light rail projects.

When Steve Murphy’s Transportation Tax Bill passed in 2008, I predicted that the DFL would whine that the tax increase wasn’t enough to add lanes to roads. I also predicted that they’d be back for another massive tax increase. It took them longer than I expected but they’re back asking for another major tax increase.

Expanding I-94 is the right thing to do. That’s why Michele Bachmann fought for it. Gov. Dayton isn’t as interested in doing the right thing as he is interested in playing politics with economic growth. Gov. Dayton didn’t like the expansion until he was pressured by David Fitzsimmons, Mary Kiffmeyer and other Republicans from central Minnesota.

Minnesota needs a governor who does the right thing for the right reasons. We don’t need a governor who moistens his finger before making a policy decision.

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