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stadium

How could a progressive have supported building the stadium? This question is asked by Professor David Schultz and others. What Schultz does not know is that the issue was not enthusiastically supported, it was accepted with great pain. Schultz, being an outside commentator, could not know this. I was in the middle of the discussion.

 

For Progressives that question was whether one can ever compromise or whether one embraces absolute values.

 

Here is what made the case for an acceptable compromise:

 

Minnesota was badly in need of stimulus. At the time of this decision, power was split between a Democratic Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature. A stadium was possibly the only building project that both Republicans and Democrats could support. Remember the possible alternatives are like Polymet that poisons our water for 360 low-paying jobs. I would gladly pay more in taxes to build a stadium in Northern Minnesota to keep out all copper sulfide mining.

 

A wise state senator told me his reasoning for supporting the stadium. In addition to the stimulus reason, there is the reason that no state has ever successfully resisted building a new stadium. In all cases, the stadium supporters eventually won. Building a stadium in the economic recession meant the lowest cost that we would ever get. Buying on sale makes great economic sense.

 

Another person pointed out that having a great stadium makes a Minneapolis, a “destination” city – a place one goes to. Being a destination city means more cash inflow. Proof that the stadium attracts more cash-flow than its’ costs is hard to find. Yet Minnesota is doing better than other states.

 

In this state, Progressives govern, going for every incremental step. It made sense to support building the stadium. But when the stadium support passed, there was no wild cheering. Instead the passage was marked by a funeral-like silence. We, Progressives did what we had to and we don’t like it. For better choices, we need to always turn out the Democratic vote.

 

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Minnesotans share of the handout to billionaire Zygi Wilf looks to be growing. Wilf threatened to move the Vikings unless he got a taxpayer-funded stadium in which he could make even more money than he already does. As sports team owners always do, he got his wish.

The agreement was that electronic pull tabs would pay a large share of the state’s part of the gift to Wilf.

Unfortunately, pull tab revenues are not bringing the amount of money they were supposed to.

Revenues since pull-tabs started on Sept. 18 have fallen far short of the $100 million monthly target experts initially set for the games. Last month, disappointing revenues prompted state finance officials to cut the expected stadium cash they’d have on hand by half.

The most current data from the Minnesota Gambling Control Board show Minnesotans only played a total of $4.1 million worth of the games through the end of 2012.

By New Year’s Eve, there were just 386 machines up and running, a fraction of the 15,400 electronic pull-tab devices projected to be eventually in play.

The existing machines each are grossing $180 a day – again short of the projected $225 daily take – grossing less per day than the experts’ projection made when the stadium financing plan was being worked on last spring.

“The critical point is just the lack of sites,” said Tom Barrett, executive director of the Minnesota Gambling Control Board, which approves the games. “And again, we have a potential pool of 2,500 sites, and as of today, we’re in about 120, 118 sites.
(MPR)


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Where is the Minneapolis Stadium money?

by Grace Kelly on May 25, 2012 · 0 comments

Minneapolis city council approves the stadium 7-6. The city charter considerations were again overwritten by stadium state law.

The approval of the stadium is controversial because all profit goes to the billionaire owner but no profit goes to the city of Minneapolis. The Star Tribune holds the Minneapolis city contribution as $678 million, confirmed by the city chief financial officer, which is possible to increase. In a strange move, the local stadium properties in the area were granted a property tax exemption, which is another hidden expenditure. The state gets back most of its money back from increased sales taxes.  

Yesterday, two small bonuses were added of 25 stadium free-use days and a guarantee that a significant portion of jobs go to Minneapolis residents.

Now the Ramsey county folks long knew that they were mostly being used for leverage. They should be applauded for stopping when the deal was truly getting negative for the people. Ramsey county did not have the local financing.

However, the question really becomes does Minneapolis have the local financing? Basically the income going to the Target convention center is diverted. The problem is that Target convention center is LOSING money. Money is being diverted to it and cannot be diverted from it. Even Forbes questions this:

The projected loss for the convention center for 2011 is $3.7 million and the lose for this year is expected to be $2.7 million. Moreover, the city’s contribution to the stadium construction and operations will be $678 million when accounting for interest over the life of the deal, which works out to an average of $23 million a year, or almost twice the operating revenue generated by the convention center in 2010. How will the shortfall be made up?

So where is the Minneapolis money coming from?

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The stadium that ate the legislative session

by Eric Ferguson on May 16, 2012 · 0 comments

Stop, don’t go away! I know you’re sick of stadium stuff, but my intent is not to continue the stadium debate, really. This is about the debate, not an engagement in it. You know how sick you are of stadium stuff? So is everybody else, and it’s like it became the whole session. That’s the point.

When I heard capitol reporters interviewed, they said all they heard was stadium stadium stadium. Legislators said all they heard from constituents was stadium stadium stadium. It was the unending Sturm und Drang of people engaged in a desperate struggle against the obvious. It was obvious the stadium was going to be in Minneapolis, obvious it was going to be on the Dome site, obvious it was going to have a roof, obvious there would be taxes on tickets etc., and obvious the Vikings would have to pay a proportion similar to what the Twins paid.

I went looking for what I wrote during the stadium debate, partly in hopes I could find where I said those things are obvious, and no luck. Maybe I didn’t put it in those terms since I know better than to be completely certain about what has not yet come to pass, though I did find this bit:

We realistically won’t get an income tax increase through with Pawlenty still in office, but the Republican legislators who will have to explain the loss of the Vikings to their constituents might find suddenly they can make an exception to the no-tax philosophy.

As the Pawlenty reference might suggest, I wrote that in February 2010. Predicting Republicans will get over their taxophobia is not normally the safest prediction. Something else interesting I noticed when I re-read that — well, besides a two-year-old typo — was that someone reading that and nothing else before today didn’t miss much. I didn’t guess at Arden Hills offering a site, soccer becoming an issue, or the expansion of gambling. Otherwise, there haven’t been new arguments in two years. If someone really wants to re-argue the stadium, read that two-year old post. It’s pretty much all there. In fact, I started that post with:

Stadiums have become one of those issues that turns some of us into one-issue voters. “How nice, you ended poverty and cured cancer, but you voted for the stadium, so I’ll never vote for you again!!” OK, I made up that quote, but I’ve run into that sentiment enough to claim it’s less exaggerated than it might appear. I haven’t seen that same level of one-issue voting on the pro-stadium side — not a poll, just my observation.

This time was even more intense than the Twins stadium, which simply didn’t dominate a legislative session the same way. Maybe because it was only half the cost, maybe because the Dome is a decent football stadium but lousy for baseball, maybe because opponents were better organized, maybe because the pro-stadium campaign was lousy, or maybe because frustration built as we went though one sports facilities debate after another leading up to the most expensive. Opposition certainly seemed more intensely organized, which is my guess as to why support was organized more than these prior facilities, albeit only at the end (again, my perception).

I expect RT Rybak spoke for all the elected officials on both sides of the issue:

Q. You said you would rather have your toenails pulled out…

A. … than go back to the Legislature and talk about the Vikings stadium for another year?  Exactly. I just needed you to know how much I didn’t want to do that.

Something else very interesting: the way the caucuses split.  
I was going to write about the split votes in each caucus, but this blowup between John Kriesel and Mary Kiffmeyer is much more interesting. Indicative of what’s being said off-line between Republicans? I’m not privy to that, but when you take a collection of people elected on their refusal to ever compromise, then divide them on the biggest issue, I have a feeling this isn’t all there is. Yes, maybe the DFLers feel equally strongly and had harsh words inside the caucus meetings or in private. I don’t know that, but I do know they get elected by a base that thinks compromise is a necessity if not a virtue of representative democracy. At least, there haven’t been threats I’m aware of to retract DFL endorsements for voting the wrong way, like nearly happened to Rep. Dean Urdahl. DFLers have these discussions among ourselves of how many times an elected official can be wrong on big issues before it becomes a problem, and we don’t have a number — but the number sure isn’t one.

In fact, both parties in both houses split, but the DFL actually provided most of the votes, prompting both Mark Dayton and the Star Tribune editorial board to describe them as acting as the majority party. The Republicans didn’t want to be left out on their own for a potentially unpopular decision and wanted the DFL to provide half their caucuses as yes votes, which meant some DFLers had to take a tough vote. They actually ended up voting mostly for the bill, which might explain why most Republicans voted no. My speculation — not fact, just so I’m clear — is that Republicans also faced a tough vote in supporting it, but knew they would get the blame if it failed and the Vikings left. So they wanted it to pass despite their opposition (so Kurt Zellers really did speak for his caucus I guess) and the DFL votes meant they could vote no without risking the Vikings announcing a move to LA near election day. That’s how the DFL acted like the majority party: they took the politically risky vote for something they thought needed to pass, even if they preferred not to have their fingerprints on it.

To hazard a prediction, no elected official will lose over this. Some on the opposing side may try to remove them, but I expect the same result as the Twins stadium: no heads will roll, neither pro-stadium nor anti-stadium, with the caveat I’m more sure DFLers will survive than Republicans. Despite Urdahl’s close call, both parties’ grassroots are divided. There just isn’t the consensus around one position to support an intra-party challenge.

Now to the immediate future, and some hope these three points are the last I’ll feel a need to say that’s stadium-related:

First, and I do mean first, state money needs to be used to hire state residents and pay state suppliers. Likewise, Minneapolis money needs to go to city residents and suppliers. This is not a beneficial side effect of keeping the team. This was a huge point to stadium supporters, if not the only point to many. Fortunately, the governor is among those stadium supporters for whom the jobs are why we’re doing this (I doubt he wanted to run for reelection with the team having left on his watch, but he always spelled out this was about an economic stimulus during high unemployment, like the bonding bill) so I have some confidence the money will be spent where it’s supposed to, but no harm in keeping the heat on the new board running the project. It would be good if they know giving the work to some out of state crony is going to have consequences. I don’t care if the bids or wages are higher. The money has to stay here. That’s a primary reason for the project. Yes, I like watching the Vikings and skating around RollerDome, but I want my unemployed neighbors to get jobs.

Second, we go through this same painful dance every time a facility gets old. The need goes from renovations to replacement as the years pass, the urgency picks up, the threat of a team moving goes from a distant memory of prior teams moving to the current team’s owner visiting other cities, elected officials try to avoid dealing with it, the predictable pro and con arguments are made, the debate gets increasingly emotional, and finally a deal is made with every party seeing how close it is and making one extra demand until it barely passes. This time was the worst, but it was the same basic pattern with the Twins stadium, building Xcel to attract an NHL team, buying Target Center to keep the Timberwolves, and I think I recall the same fight about building the Dome. I’m too young to recall if there were big fights to build Met Center and Met Stadium, but I’m guessing there were. So how about we have one body responsible for sports facilities. Then at least they could not only oversee maintenance and funding, but plan ahead for what needs to get done first and put the plan together. That would also resolve the problem of existing facilities driving down prices charged to event promoters through price wars, especially the competition between Xcel Center and Target Center. Neither pays for itself, and the existence of the other is why.

Third, and this point is a nice minor point to finish with, partly thought of from an argument by stadium opponents who said they supported the Twins stadium because it gets used for 81 home games, while the Vikings just play 10 home games. Actually, the Dome is the much busier place, though you could be fooled by the way the Target Field plaza is used like a public park. While the Dome has something going on almost every day, Target Field is empty outside the Twins’ season. We also know the Wild want to host a Winter Classic (the game the NHL holds outdoors on New Year’s Day, which has become maybe the league’s biggest event) in Target Field. Since apparently Target Field could hold an ice rink, why not use it for that during the Winter? Build several rinks on the field for local hockey leagues, open it for public skating, and generally use it like a public park. Target Field could be a year-round facility, and more important, a public facility. The public paid a lot of the cost, so let us use it.

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How to do effective political activism in Minnesota!

by Bill Prendergast on May 12, 2012 · 3 comments

The book on this subject (“how to do effective political activism in Minnesota”) is being re-written, even as we speak.

A basic truth: to win elections and make policy, you need to cross out of your comfortable ideological home base and capture the key voters who aren’t yet committed.

And a thrilling, expensive new empirical study (called “The Vikings Stadium Debate”) points to the way you can do that.

The results of the study are “mind-blowing” (to use a sixties, lava-lamp kind of metaphor.) It turns out that these key voters don’t give a damn about issues like the sinking of the public school system. That’s a niche issue, according to the study. You can only get a handful of the voters to endorse your candidate, if the education of the state’s children is all that’s at stake.

And the voters you’re after (the ones you need to actually win an election) don’t object to the rich shifting the state’s financial burden on to working families. They don’t care if (for example) if a single working mom’s tax burden goes up, because the rich are trying to keep their own taxes low so they can ship more manufacturing contracts off to China.

The voters that you need to win–don’t really give a s**t about that. Amazingly, even if the state’s rich people are shifting the tax burden on to them–the rich shifting the tax burden right on to the voters we’re talking about–those voters don’t care about that, either. They’ll still vote for “the guy they’d rather have a beer with.” Even if that guy wants to give the rich tax cuts at their expense (so the rich can make even more money by sending their manufacturing jobs off to China.)

Pick any issue you want–education, taxation, how we protect veterans and their families, who’s allowed to vote, the environment, health care for children, et cetera, you name it. They’re all just “tut-tut, yeah, how ’bout that” niche issues for everyone who isn’t alreay a partisan voter and or activist.

But if you want to tip the fifty per cent mark to really outrage those non-committed voters you need to win the election–and get them to the polls to vote your way
(CONTINUED)  
…you tell ‘em that the guys on the other side of your issue, are going to lose a major sports franchise by refusing to build a new stadium.

That–not war or peace, Social Security or health care–turns out to be the third rail of Minnesota politics. If you are boldly committed to improving the quality of government and liberty in Minnesota: you hang that “lose the team” charge on your villainous opposition. They lose, you win.

How does it work in practice? No one knows, and at the same time everyone knows. But no one really knows, because no one yet has had the Popeye-beats-Bluto b@11s to try it.

This is how it might work.

Let’s say your issue is “gay marriage: FOR.” You’re passionately committed to overturning centuries of homophobia and obtaining public and official recognition for a loving union between two gay adults. (For purposes of this example, I might have just as well as chosen “gay marriage: AGAINST”–the pro-homophobia position. The technique will work just as well, but this is a progressive blog so I chose the right side of the issue for this example.)

If you’re “gay marriage: FOR,” and you go out there and you say: “Yeah, we’ve got to stop the homophobia, gay Americans pay taxes, serve in the armed forces, they have families, they have a right–”

…polite inactivity and a big yawn, from the center voters you need to see your policy through. They don’t care. If they don’t care enough to make the veterans issue or tax burden issue a central concern–they certainly won’t care about your issue, whatever it is.

But if you frame it like this:

“If gay marriage isn’t legalized in Minnesota–the Vikings will move to Los Angeles!”

…the entire state LIGHTS UP! And all the state’s professional media, too! The business of the state comes to a halt! The governor’s waiting by the phone, all of the sudden! the legislature’s terrified to be caught on the wrong side of the issue!

(Footnote. The hard part, when you use this technique is “showing your homework.” You gotta really be able to come up with a chain of evidence that convinces the center voters that the Vikings really might move the team out of state, if your pet issue doesn’t go through. If you could get Zygi Wilf to say: “If they don’t give official recognition to gay marriage, the Vikes move to L.A.” Ziggy Stardust won’t do; it has to be a “player,” like Zygi Wilf. By the way: what does “wilf” stand for? I know what those other acronyms that end in “ilf” stand for. Anyway:)

The only thing that’s anything like the “they’ll  move the team!” issue in terms of practical political effect is: “it will create jobs.” So if you can frame your issue in terms of both of those–you’re unbeatable with the center voters.

Example: if you’re “gay marriage: FOR,” and you can successfully frame that with the center as:

“…not only will gay marriage create jobs, if we don’t do it the Vikings will move to Los Angeles!”

If you can frame it that way for the center voters–you win! The legalized wedding bells will ring out!

And it works with any issue. It’s just like a Mad Lib. Just plug in whatever issue you want into this frame:

“Not only will (plug in your issue here) create jobs–if we don’t do it, the Vikings will move to Los Angeles!”

If you can convince the center voters of that, whatever it happens to be–you win in November! It doesn’t even have to be the Vikings; it could be the Twins. We now know this, from experience.

Try it–it works!  

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I predicted that the bill that the Legislature passes will screw over Minneapolis. Minneapolis will contribute far more than the $150 million that the stadium bill says it will. According to analysis from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who stands make money from their parking lots near the new stadium, Minneapolis’ share will be between $742 million and just over $1 billion.

Mayor R.T. Rybak’s administration has said the city’s contribution of local sales taxes to a new stadium on the Metrodome site will amount to approximately $338 million for capital and operations over 30 years, or $675 million when including interest costs. But a provision in the stadium bill raises that figure if the local economy booms.

The city’s contribution could reach $890 million if tax revenue grows by 5 percent each year for 30 years, based on a Star Tribune analysis of figures provided by the city’s chief financial officer, Kevin Carpenter. In that scenario, the city would also be left with more money to spend on the convention center and economic development.

Conversely, the city’s contribution could fall to $592 million if the taxes stay flat.

We taxpayers won’t feel this pain all in one year. With future LGA cuts and myriad other funding cuts coming our way, it’ll just be yet another reason why our property taxes will continue to climb.
Here’s some more analysis:

1. $150 million toward construction costs.

2. More than $225 million toward operating costs and capital improvement costs. Minneapolis has committed to not only help build the stadium with a $150 million contribution, it’s also agreed to split the costs of operating the stadium over 30 years. This will start at around $7.5 million/yr with an estimated 3% increase per year over time. So, at least $300 million with inflation.

3. Accruing interest on our new debt while we pay off the convention center debt. That gets us to more than $375 million, which is far short of $675. What makes up the gap? Interest. How does one run up interests costs to nearly twice the cost of borrowing $150 million? I picked up some information in that during some hallway discussions during the City Council hearing on the issue tonight. As I now understand it, it’s because Minneapolis would borrow $150 million (and start paying interest on that chunk of change) years before it can start paying it back.
(MinnPost)

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Open Thread on Vikings Stadium

by Peabody on May 7, 2012 · 17 comments

{perhaps one of the MPP editors would be kind enough to promote this to the main page to give readers a place to discuss this controversial issue today…}

Governor Mark Dayton has called today “Game Day” for a Vikings Stadium proposal. This afternoon, the MN House has scheduled floor debate and a vote on a proposal to build a new Vikings Stadium, on the site of the existing Metrodome.

The Capitol is beginning to look like a tailgating lot as fans and opponents alike attempt to influence the legislators to their point of view.

Here are some links to some background info:

…Text of House Stadium bill

…The Vikings’ New Stadium website

…A website presenting an opposing view

Here’s a place to watch the debate live:

…The Uptake’s Stadium Coverage

After the break, I give my opinion, just to kick-off the topic – come join the discussion!
Here’s my take on the issue:

Believe it or not, I agree with Gov. Dayton on the Vikings Stadium — sorta. Last October, when the Vikes were in the midst of a terrible season, he was asked if it was a bad time to be pushing for a stadium. He responded, “It couldn’t be a worse season to be trying to build public support for a stadium, but we’re talking about the next 50 years, not the next 10 games.”

I AGREE!! — it is about 50 years — and as soon as the Vikes stay in their current publicly-supported stadium for 50 YEARS, we’ll be happy to fork over more tax dollars to build them another one!

But the idea that every time a major league franchise changes ownership, the new owners can come in and whine for a new stadium, and expect the taxpayers to pick up the tab, is F***ING RIDICULOUS!

What’s your opinion? Let’s discuss – respectfully, of course!

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The new stadium for the Vikings–necessary to keep them here, but not much good for anything else.

It’s a third rail for Republicans and Democrats. All of them know that there’s no public money for it (Republican “conservative” Governor Pawlenty left the state billions in the hole, and he’s proud of that record.) But none of the Republicans or Democrats want to be held responsible if the franchise leaves the state because there’s no new stadium.

In recent weeks, the GOP leadership’s wormy conduct and duplicity on this issue has disgusted even the Vikings owners. (Wow!) And now here’s House Speaker Kurt Zellers, telling a sports radio audience that he, personally, hopes the Republican and conservative efforts fail.

In an interview with sports talk radio station KFAN on Thursday, Zellers said that he would vote against the measure, but then said he wanted it to pass and hoped to join the governor on the field the opening game at the new stadium.

What a jackass, right? The GOP and its leadership argue that we’re broke, we’re out of public money, and we won’t pay for it and we can’t afford this (or anything else.) That’s the conservative argument.

Instead of solutions, they’re delivering wedge issues to the polls this year. That’s to distract voters from their failure to work out a compromise solution with the governor and their colleagues on anything of importance. That’s the conservative and Republican political contribution to Minnesota.

And they’re spending months jerking around both the state budget and the voters over this stadium thing every day–and the media is delivering breathless hourly reports on this niche issue. (Everyone, in their best moments, concedes that education is more important than stadiums. But you can tell what insiders really believe about the intelligence of the public by the amount of space they devote to the stadium and the future of the Vikes.)

And–in the middle of this GOP clusterflake–Zellers goes on to sports radio and takes the most cowardly stand possible. Assuring a pro-stadium audience that he, personally, does not believe in what he’s been saying all along. He, personally, hopes that months of GOP efforts to stop the stadium fail.

And sincere conservatives continue to back these guys up! Even as Zellers tells them that he wants the conservative position to fail; that in his mind a stadium wouldn’t be a bad thing at all–and that he hopes to go to a ball game in a new stadium, holding hands with Governor Dayton!

The conservative choice is clear: oppose the stadium at all costs. Despite the fact that the choice is unpopular with the voters, despite the fact that the Vikes are likely to go–you oppose that stadium at all political costs, because you say we’re broke and can’t afford it. If you really believe that–your duty as a conservative who wants to save the state from disaster is clear.

Yes, Republicans and conservatives will lose seats at election time if the Vikes announce they’re leaving–but conservatives say thatconservatives are elected to make the tough choices, the unpopular cuts. Well, here’s one now! Make it! (Or concede that you’re an opportunistic demagogue and hypocrite.)

Today Zellers caught himself and tried to retract, but not really:

“My head got ahead of my mouth. Sometimes I’m amazed I actually talked my wife into marrying me,” he said Friday. “I misspoke. I’ve always said I think the Vikings are an asset and I want them to stay. But the bill in the current form is what I was talking about. And again, I said very clearly the other day. I can’t support it in the form that it’s in. So I misspoke. It was an interview, going fast and furious, made a mistake.”

You all clear on his current position, now? Yes, as a liberal big spender he wants the stadium and thinks we can afford it; no, as a conservative he thinks we can’t afford and he certainly doesn’t want to raise taxes necessary to fund it, yes, as a sports fan he wants the stadium anyway; no, as a conservative he won’t work out any compromise measure that’s acceptable to the Democrats and Vikes owners; but yes, he wants the conservative side (*his* side) to lose–so Republicans won’t be held responsible for losing the Vikes at election time!

Isn’t it amazing that conservative voters allow men like that, to play with real money, their money, our money? Zellers is the kind of guy conservative voters send to the capitol to straighten things out. He’s considered a leader!

Q.E.D. The conservative voters are stupid. (They can look up what Q.E.D. means, too.)

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Julie Ortman has a funky definition of trust

by Eric Ferguson on May 6, 2012 · 0 comments

Sen. Julianne Ortman, Sen. Julianne OrtmanWhen I say State Sen. Julianne Ortman has a funky definition of “trust”, I’m specifically referring to this quote from the Star Tribune report on Gov. Dayton’s veto of the Republican tax bill:

“He vetoed our highest priority,” said Ortman said [sic], who also is deputy majority leader. “I think there will be consequences. I think that he has lost the trust of many of my colleagues in the Legislature.”

“Trust”? What did she think Dayton was going to do? I’m not privy to any private discussions between them, but given that Dayton said in every campaign speech and every candidate debate that he wanted to “tax the rich” to balance the state budget, what did Republicans think he was going to with a bill cutting taxes at the top? If Dayton indicated publicly he would the tax bill, I can’t find it. He said after the veto, “I made it very clear earlier this week to legislative leaders that I would not sign a bad tax bill for a stadium — I would not make that kind of trade.” Maybe he said he would sign a good bill, and since Republicans think their bill is good…

Maybe the most amazing thing is Republicans are still amazed when Dayton vetoes legislation he told them he opposed, and which they push through without trying for some sort of compromise. They still think they’re going to pass whatever bills ALEC or some other corporate lobbyist tells them to pass and Dayton will just acquiesce. Makes me wonder if they learned a damned thing from the government shutdown, when they were surprised Dayton didn’t sign off on their “reforms”. I could understand giving up on a compromise if they can’t get something they can live with and passing a bill just to make a statement about what they would do if they could do what they want. I’m sure lots of bills have just that purpose, and I actually respect that, assuming real problems get addressed. The GOP legislators, however, seem genuinely surprised every time, as if after two sessions in majority, they’re still clueless how a legislature works.
That might be the most amazing thing, but it’s not the most galling. What’s galling — not surprising at all, but galling — is that Republicans are tying the tax bill to the stadium bill. The connection between them is zip. None. Two completely separate pieces of legislation. I completely get that many people, maybe most people reading this, would prefer that both bills die. You should still be concerned though that the legislative Republicans are saying they’re willing to kill the stadium not on the merits, but just to stick it to the governor.

Not just the tax bill, but other noxious legislation:

He [House Speaker Kurt Zellers] said that there might be more Republican enthusiasm for a stadium if the governor hadn’t vetoed so much legislation containing GOP priorities, such as lawsuit reform.

“The stadium absolutely, unequivocally is the governor’s No. 1 priority, his only priority this session,” Zellers said.

The way smart politicians do things is to keep in mind that your opponent on one issue might be your ally on the next. So Dayton might be your opponent on a tax bill, but if you want the stadium to pass, and he’s for it too, then you work with him. You don’t look for ways to metaphorically stick your thumb in his eye.

By the way, just on the facts, Zellers is wrong about the stadium being Dayton’s only priority. Remember the jobs proposal Dayton sent to you? Maybe not, since you ignored it. The governor certainly has included the stadium in his job proposal, but given that unemployment is still high, especially so in construction where the jobs will be created, that seems reasonable. Other than the stadium, his proposal went nowhere, thanks to Zellers’ party. Then Zellers blames Dayton for having no other priority. No wonder this is the most dysfunctional legislative body the state has seen since the two parties had separate constitutional conventions. That was the 1850′s. I’m saying it’s been a while since it was this bad.

If the Republicans want my advice — I think I know the answer, but here’s my advice anyway — keep in mind the voters won’t connect the stadium and the bills that were vetoed. They may agree with you on those bills, but they won’t see the vetoes and giving the governor a spiteful kick in the shins as a valid reason for killing the stadium if they agree with it, and I think you know, judging by how scary you find the stadium issue, that whatever voters think now, they will get very angry if the Vikings leave. I think you know they will blame you. They sure won’t blame Dayton, because he tried. They won’t blame the DFL because they’re in the minority and we’re hearing half of them are willing to vote for it. You asked the DFL not to leave you hanging on this politically and to get half their members to support it. Apparently they have. Might as well do the smart thing in policy terms, because politically, you’re not dodging this.

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As the Republicans supposedly in control of both houses of the Minnesota legislature just blew past their self-imposed session end deadline of last Monday, its interesting to consider what is keeping them from just calling it quits and going home.

It ain’t a bonding bill, that’s for sure.

There’s the problem of how to gift billionaire owner of the MN Vikings, Zigi Wilf, a brand spanking new stadium. You’d think this would be easy for the majority party because the Democratic Governor and a bunch of DFLers want it, too.

But they can’t seem to figure it out.

Here’s a few items they’re considering instead of doing the people’s business … like creating jobs by passing a bonding bill:

  • Allow any redneck to sue any law enforcement agency because said redneck thinks the aforementioned agency isn’t rounding up enough illegal-looking people.
  • Still “working” on a tax bill.
  • Anti-labor anti-teacher legislation.
  • License women’s clinics and prevent all abortions.
  • Raised taxes (fees) on hunting and fishing licenses (passed and signed into law).
  • State health care exchange that grants health insurance companies complete control over the exchange.
  • Unhappy married couples must wait 2 years to get a divorce.
  • - Photo from the MNGOP Senate Caucus website

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