Dayton noncommittal on Mayo Clinic financing plan at Rochester town hall

Rochester town hall
Gov. Mark Dayton greets attendants at Rochester Community and Technical College before a town hall meeting April 4, 2013, in Rochester.
MPR Photo/Elizabeth Baier

Gov. Mark Dayton's town hall meeting on his budget drew questions on a variety of topics. And as expected, Mayo Clinic's expansion plan was part of the conversation.

More than 200 people attended the meeting Thursday night at the Rochester Community and Technical College where audience members asked the governor questions on education, climate change and silica sand mining.

In response to questions, Dayton told the audience he is committed to helping Mayo Clinic with its plan to expand. But he did not offer his support outright for the funding mechanism.

Mayo Clinic is asking the state for more than $500 million to help Rochester support the clinic's own $3 billion investment in the area. The plan calls for a portion of future sales, income and property tax revenues to pay for the improvements.

"I'm very confident we'll come out of the Legislature with strong support and a mechanism to move ahead," Dayton said. "It's a 20-year project that'll be evolving. It's not going to be here and set in stone. The Legislature is back every year and things will evolve."

Dayton added the details are "understandably being questioned by the Legislature."

Earlier this week, the chair of the state House Taxes committee said Olmsted county and the city of Rochester should consider raising local taxes to help pay for future Mayo-related improvements.

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