BY MIKE KASZUBA AND RACHEL E. STASSEN-BERGER
A frustrated Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that charitable gaming representatives were not “on the same planet” with state officials in trying to resolve a funding problem that is stalling plans for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
“I don’t see the charities and the [state] Commissioner of Revenue, Myron Frans, on the same planet in terms of their analysis,” the DFL governor told reporters.
For weeks, charitable gaming officials have balked at the details of a plan to allow electronic bingo and pull tabs in Minnesota’s bars and restaurants in order to raise the state’s $398 million share of the nearly $1 billion stadium. While the charities have generally endorsed the concept, they have insisted that any agreement needs to provide more tax relief for them.
State officials said allowing electronic bingo and pull tabs would raise $72 million yearly – more than enough to pay the state’s stadium obligation. In an attempt to satisfy the charities, Dayton and Frans earlier this month announced that the state would reduce its revenue to $62 million and give $10 million to the charities for tax relief.
But a spokesman for Allied Charities of Minnesota immediately challenged the governor, saying there was no agreement on whether the overall revenue estimates were accurate or how the new revenues should be divided.
Since then, according to King Wilson, the executive director of Allied Charities, an umbrella group for the state’s many charitable organizations, there has been little movement towards an agreement.
“Absolutely nothing new,” Wilson said late Wednesday, referring to whether there was any progress.
At the state Capitol, where the stadium's public subsidy package is in limbo, key legislators have said that resolving the impasse is vital for the Vikings stadium plan to advance in the remaining weeks before the Legislature adjourns.
Dayton said Thursday that the charities were already getting $42 million annually from charitable gaming, and that the electronic bingo and pull tabs plan could give them an additional $62 million a year.
“They characterize that as a loss,” the governor said. “I’m just mystified.
“My sense is that they’re part of a group of people who kind of need to work out what their own conclusion is to this, first,” Dayton said.