A plan that would provide state money to help Rochester handle a planned Mayo Clinic expansion is one step closer to reality.
A joint House/Senate Tax conference committee adopted language for the Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center. The plan would rely on $327 million in state aid to help Rochester build roads, bridges and other amenities to grow along with the Mayo Clnic’s $3 billion planned expansion.
The proposal also authorizes Rochester and Olmsted County to increase roughly $200 million in local taxes to pay for the expansion.
Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, was in tears after the committee adopted the measure.
“It means that I will say forever more that Rochester is the home of Mayo Clinic,” Senjem said. “It’s not Scottsdale, it’s not Jacksonville. Rochester will be the home for the Mayo Clinic – the flagship location and that’s critically important. This decision was up in the air prior to this vote.”
The House and Senate both have to pass the report before it’s sent to Governor Dayton. The overall tax bill also includes $2 billion in tax hikes to erase the state budget deficit and spend more on education and other programs.
The funding for Rochester won’t kick in until the Mayo Clinic invests least $200 million in the city. Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, says she expects Mayo Clinic officials to start working with an eight member nonprofit oversight board about the planned expansion.
“I think it will be a little bit longer before you actually see ground breaking or projects either on the private sector side or the Mayo Clinic side,” Norton said. “But they have not shared with us what ideas those are. Because Mayo Clinic has to invest first, we don’t know what ideas they have.”
The Mayo Clinic and Rochester city officials say they need the money to make road and bridge improvements and build parking garages. It could also be used for cultural amenities like shopping centers and theaters.