Gov. Mark Dayton continued his budget-selling swing across Minnesota with a town hall meeting Tuesday in the Iron Range town of Virginia, Minn.
The crowd of about 100 was largely supportive of the governor's proposed budget. Many thanked him for proposed funding increases in education, housing and health care.
Aurora City Councilmember David Lislegard asked the governor to support the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes if it meets water and air quality standards. Dayton responded that he first wanted to see the results of an environmental impact study.
"I'm going to wait for the EIS to come out. I'll read it," Dayton said. I'll talk with the experts in the state agencies and others as well. It's just too a simplistic reduction of all the issues. That's my answer, OK?"
PolyMet's supplemental draft environmental impact statement is due for public release this summer.
The stop was Dayton's sixth town hall event. Several people addressed the planned re-route of Highway 53 between Virginia and Eveleth. To make way for a taconite mine expansion, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is considering a route that would bypass the two towns.
"This would be totally devastating to local businesses, to the health and safety of the individuals that live on the east end of the Range, said Virginia City Councilmember Charlie Baribeau, who opposes the move.
Virginia officials prefer a much more expensive route with a new bridge across an abandoned iron ore pit.