The House Taxes Committee chair said Monday he was “very surprised” there is still no proposal for what remains one of the most talked about topics at the State Capitol: A public subsidy plan for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
“There should have been a bill the opening day of session,” said Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, who chairs perhaps the most influential panel in the House. “I don’t understand the timing issue – why we’re waiting.”
Davids’ comments were some of the strongest by a Republican leader this year on a Vikings stadium proposal, which team officials and other stadium supporters have repeatedly said will emerge but is still being worked on. With the first two months of the legislative session now gone, Davids said time was getting short.
“They need to get on with it, and get things moving,” Davids said. He said he has promised to give any Vikings stadium plan a hearing in his committee – even one he would not himself support. Davids said Monday he was opposed to any stadium proposal that used gambling to help fund the project.
But he added: "If they have the votes [for including gambling], they have the votes.
“I think it needs to be taken care of this year. I think we have to get a bill in and have a vote up or down,” said Davids, noting that the team’s lease at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis expires at the end of this year.
Davids said he met with team lobbyists recently, whom he said promised a proposal would be made public shortly but did not indicate when.
“I think it needs good, fair scrutiny by this House and by the Senate and the governor’s office,” he said. “We need to get off the dime.”
Davids’ comments were noteworthy because Republican legislative leaders -- who have majorities in both the House and Senate -- have repeatedly said that a stadium plan would not be dealt with until the state’s budget deficit was solved. Gov. Mark Dayton said he would be receptive to a stadium plan, depending on the details.
With the state facing a $5 billion budget deficit, and Republicans calling for major state spending cuts, a Vikings stadium plan is almost certain to be a controversial issue. Polls have consistently shown that most Minnesotans oppose public subsidies for a new Vikings stadium.
Davids also said he preferred that any plan identify a “host community” – a county or city that would agree to push through a local sales tax increase to help build the project. He said a bill without a specific financing plan stood little chance of passing the Legislature. “I don’t think members of this House or the Senate would want to leave it kind of open ended,” he said.
Davids added that he did not favor a metrowide or statewide sales tax. “Some have said, ‘Well, it’s a statewide asset.’ No, it’s not. It’s a private business,” he said of the Vikings.
“The bill I could envision is a sales tax on a host community, and we’ll go from there,” said Davids. “[But] I feel a sense of urgency here that if [the Vikings] want to get going, they have to get going.”
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