To work-vested construction workers visiting the state Capitol, Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday pitched his vision for digging the state out of the building doldrums: a new Vikings stadium and spending on state buildings.
"We need a people's stadium. Not a Vikings stadium. Not somebody else's stadium. The people of Minnesota's stadium, the way the Metrodome was," Dayton said. "We need to do that again with the right kind of financing."
He mentioned funding it, at least in part, with "surcharges on tickets and souvenir and food and beverages" to pay off construction bonds with "not a dollar from general funds."
The governor has long expressed his interest in inking a deal to get the Vikings a new stadium. He has not put a specific proposal on the table. Nor have lawmakers who have long promised their ideas would be forthcoming.
Dayton said the new stadium would not only allow professional sports events but would also put construction workers back to work. The construction industry has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn.
"Let's put people back to work all over the state of Minnesota," Dayton said.
To cheers from members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the governor underscored his plea that lawmakers pass the $1 billion state construction bill he proposed in January. That proposal landed with a thud among Republican leaders in the Legislature. Normally, lawmakers pass big construction bills in even numbered years.
Dayton says spending state money on a bonding bill now would help the sagging construction industry in their time of need.
"People have been out of work for too long," Dayton said. "Why has that legislation not already been passed three months after the Legislature took office? Two months after I proposed that bill?"
Dayton asked the visiting workers to ask their representatives to pass that bonding bill.
The governor also delivered some raw meat to the union workers.
He said he would oppose a "Right to Work" bill with "every fiber" of his being.
He said the Right to Work move, which would lessen the power of unions, was misnamed. It should be called, he suggested, "the right to work for nothin'."
In Minnesota, lawmakers have proposed a "Right to Work" constitutional amendment. While that measure has yet to be passed by the Legislature, Dayton would have little power to stop it from appearing as a question on the 2012 ballot. Constitutional amendment questions require approval from the Legislature but no gubernatorial sign off. If approved by the Legislature, a majority of those voting in a general election would have to vote for the amendment for it to be codified.