A Republican Legislature has the potential to stop what little movement there had been towards an equitable and sustainable Minnesota. The bonding bill, the most tangible impact the Legislature has on the state, will either be (a) anemic or (b) heavy on rural/suburban projects.
The case for (a) is actually weaker, considering that the Minnesota GOP wave has less to do with the Tea Party than other places. But I don’t think any Republican would deny that their party wants to drown government, and earlier this year they proposed a bonding bill that was a third the size of even Pawlenty’s proposal. It’s been a long time since the MN Republicans have gotten to wield power in this way, but national experience suggests that they won’t be able to conjure the restraint to keep their fiscal campaign pledges.
I think that scenario (b) is more likely – the Republicans will load rural and suburban districts with road-oriented pork and ignore the large cities, which don’t vote for them anyway. This is guaranteed if Emmer wins the Governor’s mansion, as he has shown little but disdain for Minnesota’s cities. If Dayton wins, we still will probably see bonding for suburban highways, as Dayton seems to me that he will make an effort to work with the Legislature, regardless of party. This would result, I predict, in some horse-trading, in which the Republicans get their speedways in the suburbs in exchange for throwing a bone or two to Minneapolis, St Paul and Duluth, most likely also road projects.
The only hope for Minnesota currently is the prospect of a Governor Dayton, and the Met Council that he would appoint. Dayton has been more equivocal about transit, sprawl and gas taxes than I would like, but there are some great DFL urbanists that would be perfect for Met Council seats (Myron Orfield). Emmer, who has said he would disband the Met Council, would be a disaster. Certainly the Met Council could do a zillion times more than it currently does (and in fact it has, if you look back 20 or 30 years), but it is better than nothing. And actually the most likely outcome of an Emmer in the driver seat would be an ineffectual Met Council, full of suburbanites who hate cities.
Cross your fingers with me for the next few months of recount season. Any hope is better than none.