Friday, September 20, 2013

A whole lotta nuthin'

Remember when Gov. Mark Dayton was lauded for exhibiting grand leadership during the negotiations for a new Vikings stadium in the spring of 2012? The spin was his desire for a new stadium was so passionate that he was able to bring DFLers and Republicans together on a plan to not burden the taxpayers for the state's $348 million share of (as veteran scribe Pat Reusse describes it) Taj Ma Zygi. A study showed that charitable gambling via e-pulltabs was all the rage and that any taxes paid would be strictly voluntary. So of the $35 million that was to be raised in the first year of tax revenue derived from e-pulltabs?

Yeah, it netted a Blutarsky-esque 0.0.

“To take an untried source of revenue for the sole source of funding for a major project is ill-advised,” he said Friday. “That’s my number one take-away from this.”

Well my number one take-away is the fact that the original projections of $35 million per year was highly suspect, yet those warnings were largely ignored.

But hey, the good news is Gov. Dayton and his fellow Dems can now execute their favorite fallback position: increasing taxes.

By May, Dayton and legislators came up with alternate plan: a one-time cigarette tax and the closing of a corporate tax “loophole.”

Oh, and remember how Dayton pitched a fit over the fact owner Zygi Wilf was going to use revenue earned from personal seat licenses to offset a portion of their approximately $477 million share? The Gov's still not over it.

Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf should have to pay a large portion of the team's share of a new football stadium from their own pockets instead of using money made from fees charged to season ticket holders, Gov. Mark Dayton wrote Monday in a letter to the government authority supervising its construction.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is in final negotiations with Vikings officials over use and development contracts for the $1 billion, downtown Minneapolis stadium. A financial analysis released last week by the authority found the Wilfs have sufficient personal resources to cover the $477 million team share.

As part of the stadium funding plan that lawmakers passed in 2012, the Vikings are allowed to sell personal seat licenses, which give the holder the right to buy tickets for specified seats in a stadium for any event, including NFL games. Personal seat licenses are common throughout the NFL and have been used as a way for teams to pay for new stadiums.

But in a letter to authority chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen, Dayton expressed concern over a recent Minnesota Public Radio News report that concluded the Wilfs would likely be able to cover most of the $477 million without spending their own money. Instead, they could use the seat licenses, naming rights to the stadium and a roughly $200 million NFL contribution.

"I strongly urge you to negotiate a final financial agreement, which requires the Vikings' owners to provide a significant share of their financial contribution from their own resources, and not from Vikings' fans through the sale of expensive personal seat licenses," Dayton wrote to Kelm-Helgen.

Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said the price of seat licenses is among a handful of items still at issue in the team's negotiations with the authority. "These licenses were discussed during the legislative process, they were anticipated and authorized by the legislation," Bagley said.
Since there is no legal recourse to alter a bill passed by the legislature and subsequently signed by the Governor, Dayton's continued insistence that the Wilfs not use PSL funds towards their cost of the stadium comes off as nothing more than high-profile petulance. Heck, the governor admitted last year he didn't fully understand all that was contained in the bill he signed, so this would also seem to be some sort of face-saving exercise. As Rep. Pat Garofalo stated, Gov. Dayton appears to pore over legislation "the same way we all read service agreements on iTunes."


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