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State GOP leaders: New Vikings stadium not a necessity

  • Article by: STEVE DRAZKOWSKI and KATHY LOHMER
  • October 19, 2011 - 9:29 PM

With state government having just solved a $5.1 billion budget deficit, and with another budget shortfall likely upcoming, you'd think the news of the day would center on the state's spending problems and on getting our fiscal house in order.

Instead, we continue reading about the alleged "need" for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Now even Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for a possible special legislative session to respond to this issue.

The media is fixated on the stadium idea because it's sexier than the economy. It's more controversial.

But in our view, the idea of heaping more taxation on Minnesota's families and businesses is extremely shortsighted.

Let's face it; Minnesotans won't stand for $600 million in new taxes being used to help build a new stadium. Especially in light of the fact that we could face another significant budget shortfall when the state's economic forecast is released after Thanksgiving.

It's not prudent to propose placing another burden on taxpayers just days before our state's fiscal picture is clarified.

A special session is meant to be called only under extraordinary circumstance.

Does taking money from the wallets of Minnesota's taxpayers and giving it to billionaire owners and millionaire players truly qualify as extraordinary?

Nowhere in the state Constitution does it say that Minnesotans should be forced to spend money to improve the economic well-being of a private business owner.

And make no mistake: Business in the NFL is very, very good.

This is the one corporation that is practically guaranteed to make money hand over fist even when the economy is awful. There's not one NFL owner who lost money last year, only owners who made more money than others.

Do we think the Wilfs have been good owners? Absolutely. But being a good team owner is not justification for being given $600 million, after government extracts that amount in new taxes from Minnesotans.

These kinds of behaviors in the past have led to the state's current financial bind.

If this is such a great stadium deal for the state, why is it not great enough for the Vikings to do it themselves?

We're all Vikings fans, but we're legislators first. Our goal is to find a solution to our budget problems, not make things worse.

As lawmakers, we need to fund the necessities, not the nice-to-haves, particularly when we are dealing with deficit after deficit.

Considering that we already have the Metrodome, which is paid for and fully functional, a new Vikings stadium is absolutely not a necessity.

Further, poll after poll has shown that the public does not want taxes raised to build a new Vikings stadium.

At some point, shouldn't we listen to the majority of Minnesotans who want their state government to live within its means?

Yet Dayton thinks we're facing a fourth-and-long situation, and may be ready to go for it -- with a special session that would address this stadium debate in the coming weeks.

If so, we hope he's watching the scoreboard. He needs 68 out of 134 votes in the Minnesota House for a stadium bill to be approved.

If the legislation contains funding arrived at through additional taxes, we guarantee the governor is already trailing 16-0.

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Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, and Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, are members of the Minnesota House. This article was coauthored by the following Republican House members: Doug Wardlow of Eagan, David Hancock of Bemidji, Linda Runbeck of Circle Pines, Ernie Leidiger of Mayer, Bruce Anderson of Buffalo Township, Mary Franson of Alexandria, Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, Ron Shimanski of Silver Lake, Kurt Bills of Rosemount, Peggy Scott of Andover, Joe McDonald of Delano, Kurt Daudt of Crown, Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine and Sondra Erickson of Princeton.

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