Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Mike Kaszuba
House and Senate Republican leaders said lawmakers will vote on a Minnesota Vikings stadium bill on Monday and they've taken their last minute plan off the table.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers said that they will take the vote even though he doesn't know that the plan -- which would use gambling revenue to pay for the state's share -- will pass and he personally "cannot" support it.
"The fate of the stadium is now in the governor’s hands...This is his top priority," said Zellers, who spent months refusing to say how he would vote on the plan.
Gov. Mark Dayton said he was just fine with the responsibility.
“I am very pleased that the Republican legislative leaders have agreed to my request for up-or-down votes in both bodies on a new “People’s Stadium” that would provide jobs for several thousand Minnesotans and keep the Vikings here. Now everyone will be able to hold legislators accountable for that momentous decision," Dayton said in a statement.
“I ask all Minnesotans, who care about the stadium, to contact their legislators and urge them to vote “Yes” next Monday," he said.
The epic collapse of one plan and the resurrection of the other adds to the high tension around of the stadium politics, which has turned the legislative session into a circus involving horned Vikings fans confronting lawmakers, union workers shouting for "jobs" and a beloved football team's fate.
House Majority Leader Matt Dean, who this week disclosed an idea to use state general obligation bonds to build the stadium, said that idea just won't work. Dean said pairing general obligation bonds with the existing stadium agreement meant that the team might only have to sign a 15-year lease for a $1 billion publicly subsidized stadium.
The House and Senate also plan to vote on a long-awaited borrowing bill for state buildings. Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said the bill would allow for $496 million in borrowing. Zellers said it would be "vanilla" bonding bill that would include borrowing to fix up the crumbling Capitol building.
During the quickly called, tense press conference, Zellers repeatedly addressed not just the crowd of reporters but the union building trades workers who packed the Capitol hearing room to hear the news.
During the press conference, Zellers motioned to the construction workers and told them that tax provisions for the Mall of America in an unrelated proposal would likely create better jobs than a Vikings stadium would.
“It’s a lot longer project,” he said as he looked directly at the workers.
As he ended the press conference, he said, "I'm going to go over and say 'Thank you.'"
Zellers said that the stadium bill was DFL Gov. Mark Dayton's "only priority" this session, something the governor denies, but the governor has been "disrespectful" in his treatment of Republicans top priorities.
Senjem said the Senate will vote on the tax bill that is one of Republicans top priorities. The Senate had delayed that vote earlier this week.
Dayton has voiced objections to that bill.
Republican Rep. Kurt Daudt said it would could help curry votes for the stadium measure if the governor signed it.
"It would go a long way for the governor to sign that tax bill," said Daudt, R-Crown.
Republican Tax Chairman Greg Davids, of Preston, said he plans to ask the governor for a personal meeting to talk over the provisions of in that measure.