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Our View: DECC or no DECC, special session needs to be called

Duluthians voted to raise their own taxes to get an expansion of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Politicians from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to legislators on the both sides of the aisle in St. Paul agreed the project was critical to Duluth an...

Duluthians voted to raise their own taxes to get an expansion of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Politicians from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to legislators on the both sides of the aisle in St. Paul agreed the project was critical to Duluth and the future vibrancy of downtown. They said money for construction was imminent.

Yet the DECC project, once again, is about to be left out of a conversation over state funding.

State Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders dropped the project along with other issues this week as they continued to plead with Pawlenty to call lawmakers back to St. Paul for a special session. The session, leaders of the Senate and House said in a letter to the governor, would focus specifically on issues related to the Interstate 35W bridge collapse and the recent devastating floods in southeastern Minnesota. The session would begin Tuesday and last no more than two days, they said.

Even with the concessions from DFL leaders, Pawlenty, a Republican, was playing it cool about whether he'd call a session or when. Federal emergency money, he said, could be used to clean up after the downtown Minneapolis bridge collapse, and he doesn't really need the Legislature to help flood victims.

Still, the governor and lawmakers began preparing bills this week for possible action.

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That is was what they should have been doing. Making sure flood victims receive the assistance they so desperately need and that bridge debris is cleaned up and reconstruction has begun must be the top priorities right now in Minnesota.

Not that other issues -- including the DECC, Local Government Aid, college and university improvement projects and property tax relief, any of which could have justified a special session -- will go away. They'll still need to be addressed and funded, and soon. In the case of the DECC expansion, delaying the project will only mean increased construction costs. The governor and Legislature need to get to work on it as soon as the regular session convenes to make good, finally, on the promises they made in the past two terms.

In the meantime, there are emergencies to take care of, up and down the Mississippi River.

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