House Speaker Paul Thissen said there is a consensus in the Minnesota House that it would be "prudent" to take action this year to address the funding problem for the Minnesota Vikings stadium project.
"I'm not sure that as you look at the way the bonds are going to be released, that it's necessary right now," said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. "But I think probably the consensus is that it's prudent we take some action this year."
At issue is the slow rollout of electronic pulltabs, a new form of barroom gambling that was to fund the state's share of the $975 million project. Bonds are to be sold in late summer to begin construction, and Gov. Mark Dayton's office is holding meetings to determine if another revenue source is needed.
Thissen said it is for this reason that proposals are moving to add a new funding source, including a proposed tax on pro sports memorabilia and luxury suites that has been introduced by the House tax chair, Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. That proposal has also been included in a Senate tax-reform measure, and has been endorsed by the chair of the commission building the stadium.
Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he relies on the opinion of last year's stadium sponsor, Sen.Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. Rosen said she believes the state should aggressively promote the new electronic games rather than look for other funding sources.
GOP legislators have introduced measures to delay the bond sale, increase the Vikings' contribution and reduce the state's contribution.
The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said, "We made a commitment to pay for a certain portion of the cost, and so we have an obligation to do that." He added, "The governor would be well-advised to come forward and say, here's what he would like to do. I think this was kind of his idea."
The House Minority Leader, Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said action may well be needed.
"I have had initial conversations with Speaker Thissen about his desire to deal with this, this session, in some format, and I don't disagree that we should have some resolution on this issue before bonds are let, late summer or early fall," he said.