Editor's note: The following is reprinted, with permission, from Rep. Joyce Peppin's weekly email newsletter dated May 14, 2012. Peppin (32A) represents several communities, including Maple Grove.
The 2012 Legislative Session came to a close on Thursday. Despite accusations that the session lacked progress, the record proves otherwise. Looking back at the last two years, we have had notable success by balancing the state’s budget without raising taxes and passing significant tax and education reform legislation. Unfortunately, Governor Dayton vetoed many bills – including several of my own – that would have further spurred private sector job growth and reformed our education system.
Next week I will send out a list of legislative accomplishments, but for now, I urge area residents to call Governor Dayton and ask him to sign the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act!
In this issue,
1. Happy Mother’s Day!
2. Call Gov. Dayton and tell him to support main street businesses – Sign the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act!
3. Vikings Stadium
1. Happy Mother’s Day!
To all the Moms who receive my email newsletter, I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Mother’s Day.
2. Tax Relief and Job Creation Act – Version 2
Last week, Governor Dayton vetoed our original Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. This was a great step backward, as main street businesses around the state have told us they’re suffering with one of the worst business tax climates in the nation. It was also disappointing because it would have created more jobs than the Vikings stadium and bonding bills COMBINED!
We quickly moved to draft a version that the governor would sign. The author of the bill, Rep. Greg Davids, set up three different appointments to meet with Governor Dayton in an attempt to work out a compromise. However, the governor did not show up to any of the meetings.
We did the best we could with the situation at hand, and the new bill has received favor from various stakeholders around the state. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, and even the Long-Term Care Imperative has sent out an action alert:
“The Long-Term Care Imperative urges Governor Dayton to sign the tax bill in order to protect Minnesota’s 230 non-profit nursing homes from having to start paying Minnesota sales taxes. The tax bill contains a provision that has strong bipartisan support and would statutorily clarify the sales tax status of non-profit nursing homes. Failure to address this issue could result in significant tax increases for a majority of Minnesota’s financially-strapped nursing homes.”
Gov. Dayton’s office can be reached at 651-201-3400, or by filling out this form.
3. Vikings Stadium
After nearly 10 years of lobbying, the Legislature passed a state-subsidized Vikings stadium deal.
I understand the passion and fervor that Vikings fans have for a new stadium. Thank you to the many hundreds of constituents who emailed, called my home or office, or sent letters of support or opposition. In the end, the bill passed the House 71-60 and the Senate 38-28. Later today Governor Dayton will sign the bill into law, and the Vikings are moving ahead.
I voted no after giving the issue and the bill great consideration. Let’s look at the stadium numbers.
- · The total cost of the stadium: $975 million
- · Vikings’ share: $477 million
- · State’s share: $348 million (plus interest costs)
- · Minneapolis’ share: $150 million
Upon first glimpse, it appears that the Vikings owners are paying a good chunk of the cost. However, the stadium bill contains provisions that hand over the naming rights and personal seat licenses to the team which will likely amount to over $200 million.
In addition, the Vikings will receive a $200 million low interest loan from the National Football League, and will not have to pay property taxes to the State of Minnesota. This is a significant concession that no other private sector business receives.
Minneapolis residents will have absolutely no say as to whether or not they support funding $150 million to this project. The bill contains a referendum override, in effect, trampling on the Minneapolis city charter, or constitution, which requires a referendum for any expenditure over $10 million on a stadium.
Revenues for the stadium are to be collected through the expansion of gambling, namely electronic-pull tabs and a new (and perhaps illegal) form of sports-themed tip boards. Experts say that the revenue generated by the e-pull tabs would have to triple in order to fulfill our payments. While I hope electronic-pull tabs are successful, I do not believe this will happen, and the state’s general fund will be raided to make up the difference. That means that before paying for services such as education, health care, transportation, or other important needs, the state will be funding stadium construction.
In the end, as a fiscal conservative, I do not believe it is a proper function of state government to build stadiums for private sector business owners. I hold no ill will toward Zygi Wilf who, by all accounts, is a very charitable owner. He and other team officials have always been honest in our conversations, forthright and transparent in their goals.
I do understand the Vikings are an important part of our state’s heritage. So too are the Twins, Gophers, Timberwolves, Lynx, and Wild.
That is why I am exploring the introduction of legislation that would use dollars from the cultural heritage fund – the so-called “Legacy” sales tax increase that funds parks, trails, wildlife habitat, the arts and other cultural heritage – for a sports facilities construction and improvement account.
What do you think? Should we expand the use of “Legacy” tax dollars that are currently earmarked to “cultural heritage” to include the future building, upgrading, renovating, or improving of stadiums and other sports facilities? Are the Vikings, Twins, and other sports teams worthy of receiving money from the Legacy tax we’re already paying? Send me your thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
Have a great week,