Editorial: Stadium bill is misplaced priorityI was disappointed that the Minnesota House approved legislation that will inevitably fleece Minnesota’s taxpayers.
By: Rep. Mary Franson, Alexandria, MN, District 11B (R), The Osakis Review
Not long ago, the Legislature approved a bill that would pay back the remainder of last year’s school payment shift extension, and pay a portion of the 70-30 shift the DFL chose to take from our schools in 2010. With roughly $1 billion sitting in the bank, the proposal would have used $430 million to pay back some of what we owe.
We’ve heard from many Minnesotans who want our schools paid back as quickly as possible, and this bill would have started this process.
Governor Dayton vetoed the proposal, saying that taking funds out of budget reserves was a bad idea.
To me, that veto was a misplaced priority.
This week, I was disappointed that the Minnesota House approved legislation that will inevitably fleece Minnesota’s taxpayers.
The Vikings stadium bill would require three sources to pay for construction. Under the amended proposal, the Vikings would be responsible for $477 million, Minneapolis would add $150 million, and the state of Minnesota would contribute $348 million through expected revenue generated through the creation of electronic pulltabs.
To be clear, I’m not against gambling. In fact, I think the state of Minnesota should compete with the tribes for gambling business. I also support charitable gambling organizations and providing them with tax relief. And I also strongly support keeping the Vikings in Minnesota.
But this legislation is a bad deal for Minnesota.
Goldman Sachs tells us the state funding source is good. It’s also worth noting Goldman Sachs received $10 billion in taxpayer bailout funding, and is backing the bonds.
Electronic pulltabs were tried in Iowa, and were eliminated after 10 months. If they fail in Minnesota, then Minnesota taxpayers will be on the hook for stadium payments, as the backup funding source is Minnesota’s General Fund.
The general fund is used to fund state government programs, meaning instead of using revenue to give nursing home workers a raise or properly funding our rural schools, they’ll be used to pay for a stadium.
Minnesota is basically gambling to pay for the stadium with gambling dollars by encouraging people to lose their money. It’s not that I’m against the Vikings, but I represent the taxpayers, and the taxpayers will ultimately be fleeced in this stadium deal.
That’s also a misplaced priority.
But following those votes, the Legislature regained some common sense by approving a second version of the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.
Included are provisions that allow small businesses to take up-front capital equipment exemptions rather than wait months for a refund, a Greater Minnesota Internship Grant program that will help keep more talented workers in rural Minnesota, and a Veterans Jobs Tax Credit that encourages the hiring of veterans.
Business owners would also see a property tax freeze, while homeowners could expect increased property tax relief under the plan. It also freezes Local Government Aid payments for 2013 at 2012 levels. This allows cities under 5,000 to receive either their paid 2012 LGA or certified 2013 LGA, whichever is greater. For a city like Nelson, that means it’s eligible for $23,990.
This is a well-placed priority. This bill not only provides needed tax relief, but gives our job creators some of the tools they need to succeed and expand their workforce – all of which creates a stronger and more prosperous Minnesota.