Thursday, February 16, 2012

Minnesota, the State That Shut Down This Summer Over Taxes and Spending Is Still Looking at Tax Increases

Tax Increases to Support a Football Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings

If it turns out you are not doing anything at this minute, get in the car and drive by the nearest football stadium.  Yes there is one near you, either a high school field, a college field or perhaps a stadium that hosts the local professional football team.  What type of activity do you see?  Well even without knowing where you live or what facilities was near you, The Dismal Political Economist knows exactly what you see.  Nothing

That’s right there is no activity at the stadium.  There is no one working, there are no jobs being filled or created and the facility sits empty, cold and forlorn.  It is contributing absolutely nothing to the local economy.  In fact, if it was in part supported by public money it is worse than contributing nothing, its maintenance, debt service and other costs are robbing the community of fiscal resources.  All of which brings us to the great state of Minnesota.

Minnesota had a rather nasty summer, it seems that legislature and the Governor were unable to agree on levels of spending and taxation, so Republicans who control the legislature shut down state government.  The Governor caved, as Democrats frequently do, and severe cuts were made in spending on education and other social services.  And Republicans could revel that their anti-tax increase position in all circumstances was upheld.

Okay, it turns out the anti-tax position doesn’t come into play when it comes to subsidizing an NFL team even though NFL teams and their owners being one of the most prosperous things in the nation.  There is currently a bi-partisan push to provide huge state and local government spending to build the Minnesota Vikings a billion dollar plus stadium.

The total costs are $1.1 billion. The plan would have the Vikings contributing $425 million, the state $350 million and $336 million from the county

Now various tax proposals have met with opposition

In the first plan, the county proposed a half percentage point countywide sales tax increase, but that was shot dead from many angles. Then the county proposed a 3 percent food and beverage tax increase, but that wasn’t well-received by legislators either

So now government is looking for a different way to fund the public’s part of the cost.

The proposal would use seven revenue streams to raise the money, including $5.4 million in parking fees from non-game events and $2 million in naming rights to parking lots. A 3 percent admissions surcharge would be included.

The deal would collect hospitality taxes from not just the stadium but the entire 430-acre former munitions site. Those taxes include food, beverage, sales and lodging. Growth in sales tax revenues at the site and business property taxes at the site would be used for transportation upgrades in surrounding roads. The county would assume the cost of land acquisition and remediation

but not matter how you slice this baloney, it is still going to result in hundreds of millions of public dollars going to a wealthy team owner and a highly profitable business. 

But wait, there’s more.  One of the few benefits to building a stadium is the increase in development in the area.  So who get’s that benefit?

The stadium would sit on 260 acres of the site. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf would have an option to develop 170 surrounding acres

Gosh, just where are those anti-tax, anti-government spending, anti-crony capitalism Conservatives when you need them?  Oh yes, joining their Democratic colleagues in picking out which sky boxes they intend to be the guests of.

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