The state will be paying Gov. Mark Dayton's way to this weekend's Super Bowl in the New York area, Dayton's spokesman said
"He's going out there to bring the Super Bowl back to Minnesota," Swenson said. The costs to the state will include lodging and Dayton's flights. Swenson said the governor considers the trip official business. Swenson said Dayton will not be attending the game itself.
While there, Dayton will have a private meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Minnesota steering committee will also have a tour of the events around this weekend's Super Bowl and the Vikings will host a party.
"The Vikings are hosting a Minnesota reception Saturday, which will be attended by the governor, the commissioner of the NFL, Vikings ownership, Vikings front office, a number of business and community leaders, our steering community, a number of current and former players," said Lester Bagley, a Vikings vice president. The state is not expected to pay anything for that event.
Private interested are expected to raise tens of millions of dollars if Minnesota gets the 2018 Super Bowl. Asked if the donors' names would be released to the public, Richard Davis, chairman of U.S. Bankcorp and co-chair of the Minnesota Super Bowl effort, said: "Absolutely, it will be visible."
Baird Helgeson and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
Gov. Mark Dayton is seeking nearly $1 billion in new state-backed construction projects, offering money for civic centers, higher education buildings and enough to finish restoration of the aging Capitol.
“My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state,” Dayton said Wednesday. Many projects have been delayed for years, he said, and are “crucial to revitalizing downtown business centers” college campuses, classrooms and other state needs.
Dayton’s list includes civic center expansions in Mankato, St. Cloud and Rochester, along with the a revitalization of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis and a long-sought expansion of the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul.
The governor also wants more than $150 million for improvements and better infrastructure at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. He is seeking more than $68 million to renovate the University of Minnesota’s Tate Science and Teaching building and pay for the U of M’s research and laboratory improvement fund.
The proposal includes roughly $250 million for clean drinking water projects, remodeling the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and a host of other economic development and veterans initiatives.
Dayton is asking lawmakers to sell bonds for about $986 million to pay for the projects, which is more than many lawmakers were expecting.
The state’s rebounding economy and strong budget outlook offers the state a little extra money if leaders want to increase borrowing in the budget cycle. A recent report by Moody’s Investors Service praised the state for its relatively modest debt load.
Dayton's proposal is likely to be far too rich for Republicans, who have pushed for far more modest borrowing packages.
Dayton has said the state billions in backlogged projects that they need to start moving forward on.
The DFL governor said he was disappointed that Democrats who control both chambers in the Legislature didn’t approve more projects last year, instead passing a stripped down proposal that only paid for the first portion of the Capitol renovation.
Democrats can’t do it alone, however. Bonding proposals require a super majority of votes in both chambers, which means Democrats need a handful of Republican votes if they plan to pass any borrowing proposal.
The governor said that he did not consult with Republican lawmakers as he put together his bill, nor did he consider what political districts the projects he picked were in.
On Wednesday, he criticized Republicans who led the Legislature in 2010 and 2011 as "right wing extremists" and suggested they were shortsighted if they did not support the important projects he proposed funding.
"Today's wish list is another example of Governor Dayton asking hardworking Minnesotans to overpay for things they would never buy for their families or small businesses," said Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.
The Democratic lead on capital borrowing issues was more enthusiastic.
"This is an excellent start to the conversation and it’s extremely encouraging the governor has included many projects that have been in the queue for some time," said Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. She is responsible for putting together the House list of borrowing projects and getting it passed with a super majority.
Even before Dayton finished unveiling his proposal, supporters were heaping praise on the projects that made the cut.
“Governor Dayton has shown consistent support for projects that create jobs and have statewide impact. His proposed 2014 bonding bill is no exception,” St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. “The included Saint Paul projects—improvements at Como Zoo, an expansion of the Children’s Museum, and the renovation of the Palace Theatre – are crucial projects that will develop culture and education for all Minnesotans.”
See Gov. Dayton's proposal here:
Minnesota state officials are still trying to assess the significance of a new legal challenge that is delaying the sale of nearly $500 million in bonds for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
“We don’t know and that’s the problem,” said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter.
Former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Doug Mann and two others filed a petition Friday with the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop the sale of bonds for the public share of the $1 billion stadium. The group argued that supporters muscled through the project without a citywide vote required by the Minneapolis city charter.
The issue is not a new one, but suddenly slammed the crucial bond sale to a grinding halt.
State budget officials had methodically prepared for the bond sale to ensure the lowest possible interest rates. Now the project costs could creep up, not only with the potential for higher interest, but also added administrative and legal costs.
“Ultimately, the cost of financing the stadium will be more expensive because we are not in the market in timely manner,” Schowalter said. “We are taking on the challenge of creating a lot more legal and administrative time. That is not the message we want to be sending to the market.”
As of Friday afternoon, Schowalter was preparing to fly to New York to oversee the bond sale early this week. After numerous consultations with legal counsel, Schowalter canceled the sale Saturday afternoon and stayed in Minnesota.
Schowalter said they do not yet know how much additional legal and administrative time will be necessary if the Supreme Court ultimately allows the bond sale to go forward.
It is not clear when the Supreme Court might weigh in on the matter, said John Kostouros, spokesman for the State Court Administration.
Mann also filed a petition with the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn a Hennepin County District judge's decision on the issue last November, seeking a citywide vote on the stadium agreement in Minneapolis.
The leader of the the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing stadium construction, said delays in the bond sale are a serious blow to the already razor-tight deadline. They said it could jeopardize the 2016 opening of the stadium.
Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement that he was concerned about the delay. "I hope that this matter can be quickly resolved to prevent severe damage to the project’s financing and the loss of many important jobs," he said.
Minnesota tax revenue continued to beat expectations the last two months.
The state took in $3.3 billion for November and December, $172 million more than projected.
Income taxes, sales taxes and other revenue all came in higher than predicted.
Income tax collections lead the way, bringing in $1.4 billion, about $90 million more than the forecast.
Sales taxes were up $37 million over estimates, coming in at $838 million. Budget officials credit stronger than anticipated economic activity for at least some of the boost in sales tax collections.
House Speaker Paul Thissen praised state businesses and workers for the strong numbers.
“Minnesota’s economy has continued to grow at a faster pace than the rest of the nation, which is a testament to our great workforce and businesses,” said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “Our economy is on the right track and we need to continue focusing on ways to make more progress.”
Budget officials cautioned against drawing firm conclusions from the numbers. The tax numbers can vary dramatically depending on the timing of tax payments and consumers' reactions to changing tax laws.
The forecast for the U.S. economy has already improved from a November analysis, giving budget officials new hope the economic recovery will accelerate.
Gambling opponents stepped up criticism of the Minnesota State Lottery on Thursday as it expands to offer scratch-off lottery tickets for sale on its website.
“Our state should not be involved in predatory gambling by encouraging families to take money from Main Street and blow it on Easy Street,” said Autumn Leva, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Family Council.
Lottery officials continue to quietly expand online offerings in what they hope will become an explosive area of growth for the state-backed gambling franchise.
The lottery’s expansion comes as a coalition of well-organized and well-financed gambling opponents have successfully beaten back numerous new gambling proposals at the Capitol, from a downtown casino to Las Vegas-style slot machines at horse racing tracks.
Lottery officials contend that state law dictates that they do not need legislative approval to expand online gambling options. Lottery officials routinely testify at legislative hearings about their new ventures, but they do not seek a vote of approval.
“The Lottery’s unilateral decision to expand online, without legislative approval … is an affront to the legislative process,” said Jack Meeks, president of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion.
The head of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota challenged lottery officials to allow lawmakers to challenge their expansion efforts. “If the Lottery does not share our genuine apprehension of online gaming being detrimental to Minnesota citizens, they should have no problem successfully navigating the legislative process.”
Online gambling made up less than 1 percent of the state's $560 million lottery business last year. But lottery sales have remained strong, having increased overall revenue for each of the last six years, even during the Great Recession.
Lottery aficionados will have their choice of a host of online scratch-off lottery games, digital replicas of the actual paper lottery tickets they now buy at retailers. Rather than scratching off the ticket with a coin, the customer uses a mouse and a cursor.
Online players can bet up to $50 a week, and problem gamblers can block themselves from the site. The lottery has several ways of ensuring customers are old enough to play and geo-locators to make sure they are in Minnesota.
The push into online gambling began during Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration has showed no signs of slowing under DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
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