Thursday, May 10, 2012

Decision on Taxpayer Funded Stadium for the Minnesota Vikings Goes Down to the Wire

Critical to the Stadium Success – Don’t Let the Voters Vote on the Massive Business Subsidy

For those of us outside the state of Minnesota the months long fight over whether or not to divert critical state financial resources towards the building of a football stadium of billionaires has been both instructive and entertaining.  The entertaining part is watching supposedly sane and rational people abandon their beliefs and twist everything in a way to support the outcome.

For example, it appears that the charter for the city of Minneapolis requires a voter referendum on the stadium, but at least one lawmaker says that the charter can be ignored.

Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, argued that the city charter included many outdated points, including one concerning cutting ice out of the city’s lakes. A charter provision requiring a referendum when at least $10 million is spent on sports facilities, she added, was another. “Let’s all not get wound up about the city charter,” she said.

Yeah, let's not get hung up on all that legal stuff and voter requirements.

Another entertaining aspect is that the Republicans seem more true to their beliefs than the Democrats, with Republicans somewhat opposed to government involvement with and subsidy of a very wealthy and successful business, and Democrats (DFLers in Minnesota speak) fighting to divert tax dollars away from needed social projects and into the pockets of multi-millionaires.

The Senate debate began Tuesday after Republicans, who hold a majority in the Senate, were locked in a protracted, closed-door debate on the stadium.  The meeting may indicate that Senate DFLers -- like DFLers in the House -- might have to provide large numbers of votes to pass a stadium project that is a top priority of Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, but is opposed by many Republicans.

When the House approved a public subsidy package for the stadium by a 73 to 58 vote late Monday, DFLers provided 40 of the 73 votes despite being in the minority in the House.

The instructive part is not nearly as entertaining.  In fact it is sad to see the once progressive state of Minnesota descend into a farcical battle to see if the state can deprive its citizens of schools, police services and other needed programs and argue that the voters, the ones who pay the bills are not entitled to a vote because, you know, they may vote the wrong way.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the chief Senate stadium author, and other stadium proponents have said that a referendum was not triggered under the city charter because local taxes being used for the stadium were not new taxes, but existing taxes that were being diverted to the project.

Well that makes us all feel better.

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