Does @savethevikesorg Support Dayton’s Plan to Raid the General Fund for Vikings Stadium #wilfare?

It’s a question worth asking since one of Cory Merrifield’s favorite talking points about the Vikings stadium corporate wilfare plans he’s supported has been that they wouldn’t rely upon general fund dollars. It’s a painfully twisted argument, since money from a Racino could obviously go to the general fund rather than to Zygi Wilf’s bottom line, but let’s assume that that actually makes sense for a second.

For example, last month Save The Vikes endorsed the White Earth Band’s plan to give more than half a billion dollars to Zygi Wilf that they would extract through slot machines. In that endorsement, Save the Vikes quoted Cory Merrifield regarding funding schemes:

Merrifield commented on his views of the most recent funding plan stating, “SavetheVikes.org supports this solution for the same reason we continue to support Racino-It is self sustainable, creates jobs and keeps the Vikings in Minnesota without a sales, property or general fund tax increase.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the current plan seems to involve:

1. Extending a convention center construction funding tax that would otherwise sunset in Minneapolis. 1. Repurposing an existing sales tax to subsidize Zygi Wilf’s bottom line.
2. Expand gambling in the state in order to increase gambling taxes.
3. Extract money from the general fund, as the stadium bill clearly describes:

Section 1. [16A.965] STADIUM APPROPRIATION BONDS.
25.18 Subdivision 1. Definitions. (a) The definitions in this subdivision and in chapter
25.19473J apply to this section.
25.20(b) “Appropriation bond” means a bond, note, or other similar instrument of the state
25.21payable during a biennium from one or more of the following sources:
25.22(1) money appropriated by law from the general fund, including, without limitation,
25.23revenues deposited in the general fund as provided in articles 4 and 5, in any biennium for
25.24debt service due with respect to obligations described in subdivision 2, paragraph

This seems to go against one of Save the Vikings’ main talking points. While exploiting gamblers by adding slots to Canterbury would clearly be a new tax, expanding pulltabs in the state in order to provide Vikings stadium corporate wilfare not only increases taxes, it puts money into the general fund which would then be raided for a New Jersey businessman’s benefit.

9 thoughts on “Does @savethevikesorg Support Dayton’s Plan to Raid the General Fund for Vikings Stadium #wilfare?”

  1. Hate to correct you on #1, Ed, but the Convention Center tax has no sunset provision. Legislators could kill it, but currently, once Convention Center needs are met, any surplus can be used for any economic development purpose in the city. It’s at the core of my argument that the city can get property tax relief post-2020 (when the convention center is paid off) without doing a Vikings stadium, by shifting the Convention Center sales tax to replace the current Target Center property tax. To be fair, Rybak argues legislators would sunset the tax first, but that’s not the way it currently reads.

  2. So, under the current proposal, people outside of the city of Minneapolis could effectively avoid paying a dime for this stadium if they just didn’t play electronic pull tabs and not spent any money in the city?

  3. @Rat. My bet is that Ed doesn’t directly answer your question.

    If the stadium is built in Mpls, it is certainly possible the area outside of the city would be better off because the incremental sales taxes and payroll taxes would go into state general revenues. In that case your hypothetical group of gambling abstainers who never travel to Mpls might well be better off.

    Somehow Ed has argued that if the stadium is subsidized, the area outside of Mpls will have less resources for schools and other needy causes BUT he really hasn’t explained how this happens. Perhaps. A belief that the State’s borrowing capacity will be exhausted with more debt. I don’t understand the reasoning on that.

    Rybak apparently believes that any burden here within Mpls has associated other benefits that have not been quantified. Councilman Schiff , as I understand, doesn’t agree with Rybak and believes that the State is getting all the benefits at the cost of the City–partly because he believes the city gets almost nothing but the risk. The truth is hard to get at.

  4. @Rat, if you pretend that state revenue is not fungible and hope that electronic pulltabs generate what they optimistically hope, then perhaps.

  5. Actually, if enough people follow Rat’s very rational approach to (not) funding Zygi’s playpen, it all but guarantees that the general fund will be need to be tapped to cover the resulting shortfalls. Whether on the front end or the back end, the citizens of the State are going to end up bankrolling wilfare.

  6. If it is possible for a former TourDeFrance winner to resurrect himself from the dead, I suspect it is also possible for Dayton to wall off general funds from being raided just in case the pull tab and dedicated sales taxes are not enough to pay off the stadium appropriation bonds.

    As far as I can tell, selling stadium appropriation bonds does not risk the states capacity to borrow in the future. The state has credit rating exposure, but it is related to the unwillingness of the legislature to match revenues with specific types of spending such as the escalation of state paid nursing home costs. Mpls as a city has had the screws applied by Pawlenty’s poor foresight and a strong case can be made for taking pressure off of Mpls taxpayers.

    The alternative might be to ditch pull tabs and use Racino. Mpls taxpayers would be much better off, but so far the Tribal lobbyists fighting new gambling competition have been winning the battle. Eventually the legislature will un-monpolize tribal gaming, and Pawlenty–despite his many faults tried to do that–but this might not happen in 2012–so the burden had shifted to Mpls. Taxpayers.

    The Wilf’s should assign the right to sell about 10000 premium seats to the state, which could collect Ed ‘s personal seat licenses. Of course the amount that the Wilf’s would contribute would be a lot less—but Ed could feel better that some fans would be paying out bigtime while others would be guaranteed “affordable” seats as states in Dayton’s deal.

  7. Rick has gotten close to the solution, but I think he held back a bit. Instead of limiting the Vikings to being fully funded by expanded gambling, let’s propos–
    1–the team gets purchased by the tribal interests,
    2–the stadium be built on Little Earth (hey, it’s on light rail and that neighborhood could use some development too, eh?), and while they are at it,
    3–legalize prostitution, onsite smoking, and drinking for a full entertainment extravaganza.

    Even better, if tribal interests banded together and bought the whole NFL, it would be problem solved for society and positively prove the existence of karma.

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