Even as new reports of funding details for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium swirled through the State Capitol, the chief House author of the legislation dismissed them Thursday as speculation and said only he and select others knew the plan’s details.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the House State Government Finance Committee chair, said that although the proposal was “ready” the legislation's introduction was again being pushed back, this time until next week.
The latest stadium developments came as evidence mounted that Republicans were holding back on releasing the plan this week while party leaders – who control both the House and Senate – aggressively push through far-reaching budget cuts that would heavily impact the elderly, the poor and state government services.
There were also indications that the Vikings were likewise being kept in the dark on the stadium’s details. Lester Bagley, the Vikings vice president for public affairs and stadium development, said that in recent weeks the team has had “less. . .input on exactly what they’re drafting.” Bagley said legislators writing the stadium bill had "taken [the plan] more in house."
Lanning on Thursday discounted reports saying that the state would cap its contribution to a stadium to no more than $300 million and that a $30 million annual debt payment would be covered by a sports memorabilia tax, lottery game, luxury box sales tax and surcharge on player incomes.  The plan also reportedly would invite cities and counties to compete for the stadium, and allow them to levy as much as a half-cent sales tax increase and other taxes to help fund the project.
The details were reported Wednesday by KSTP-TV, Channel 5.
“They may be making a claim that isn’t substantiated by the latest facts,” he said. “I’m saying that wherever that information came from, it didn’t come from us.
“In order for the information to be accurate, it has to come from us – Sen. [Julie] Rosen [R-Fairmont, the likely Senate author] and me,” Lanning added. “We’re not quite ready to move forward.”
There were also signs that the Vikings were frustrated with the delays. “Our preference would have been to put a framework or a proposal out there earlier but, again, we’re not in control of the process,” Bagley said Wednesday.
“It’s not our bill,” he said.
While Lanning insisted Thursday that the proposal would have support among both Republican and DFL legislators once it was unveiled, his comments came one day after the Republican-led Senate adopted a dramatic proposal to shrink the role of government in providing health care for poor and disabled Minnesotans.  The move is part of an attempt by the Legislature to erase a $5 billion state budget deficit, an issue that has dominated the agenda at the State Capitol since legislators began meeting in January.
“Throwing 200,000 people off of health care, putting over 800 people into nursing homes that could live in the community if they could keep their services – then the priority is funding the Vikings stadium? Those are the wrong priorities if you ask me,” said Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, the party’s leading expert on human service issues.
Lanning, in part, agreed.  "This is a secondary issue," he said of the Vikings stadium.  "The budget is our primary issue.
"We obviously have budget things that are getting in the way of our move forward" with a stadium, Lanning said.
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