regard to their acceptance into the marketplace they will be less likelyto make this investment. We in Minnesota will only have a high qualityexchange if we have high quality providers as participants.First estimates of cost are significantly higher than I had expected.I believe this is in large part because these estimated costs are assuminga much larger participation rate than data would predict. Yet, byforecasting this large amount we commit to building infrastructure toserve that level. I prefer an approach that estimates conservatively andinstead would scale up once the demand is realized.Finally, in the past decade Minnesota has made tremendous gainsin health care reform by gathering all stakeholders together to generatebuy in, trust and best practices. The results have been outstanding. Thisbill precludes providers from having equal input in the exchange design.They are excluded under an assumption of, “a conflict of interest”. Ireject that approach. I think the design team must include the checksand balances that come from having each sector equally at the table. Iwill work to make these changes. You may hear me express theseconcerns in future discussions, as sometimes our only avenue forexpression is our vote.
This week, I got the opportunity to testify in front of theTransportation committee to make the case for expanding Highway 494in Plymouth. Joined by Mayor Kelli Slavik and TwinWest ChamberDirector, Judy Johnson (as well as Plymouth City Council member), Iargued for a permanent fix to the awful congestion plaguing ourhighway. For those of you who live in Plymouth or drive through, youare certainly aware that this fix is long overdue.It is important to note that the transportation committee does not determine which road projects are funded. However they do set direction. This decision-making ability is left up to the MinnesotaDepartment of Transportation (MnDOT).Currently, MnDOT has proposed a short-term solution to theproblem that would cost $34 million. They propose to use striping andsignage to create a “dynamic shoulder” which would open the shoulderfor regular use during peak traffic times. Our proposal provides a long-term fix that expends $50 million. It does not make sense to spend asignificant amount of money to get a short term solution when you cansolve the problem permanently by paying a relatively small amount more.