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Tuesday, May 09, 2006 

Stadium Madness

The House has passed stadiums for the Twins and Gophers, two proposals which I have vehemently opposed. Today, after a lot of failures to get off the ground, the Senate passed a Gophers stadium bill and a Twins-Vikings stadium bill with transportation projects. The Gopher bill gets is expected to get the money in a later bill from a statewide sports memorabilia tax, while the Twins/Vikings/transportation is funded by a half-cent metro-area sales tax subject to voter referendum. It's not perfect, and it's still disheartening how much money we're giving to the filthy rich so they can get even more filthy rich, but it's better than it was and the pressure for stadiums is a political reality that needs to be faced. The transportation element of the bill is especially encouraging, because it helps reduce our dependence on gasoline (see the previous post). Gov. Pawlenty, predictably, says he'd veto the bill if it came to him in its present form. It won't, of course, because it will go to conference committee, and it will undoubtedly look very different when it emerges. I wonder, though, how Gov. Pawlenty justifies supporting a Twins proposal that would raise taxes on the citizens of Hennepin County without a referendum while he'd veto a proposal to raise taxes on the metro area. Maybe he's just opposed to raising his own taxes in Eagan and in St. Paul?

One thing to note in the article is Speaker Sviggum's insistence that "[The Senate's] bill does not get the job done". Sviggum and his caucus are obviously still taking heat from last session's shutdown - when they frequently used the red herring "get the job done" line - and feel squeezed by the continuing lack of accord on the stadium issue. They have only themselves to blame; Sviggum and Gov. Pawlenty have made stadiums the centerpiece issue this year, making it absolutely imperative for them that at least one or two of the proposals have gone all the way through before the session ends. While it's looking very likely that something will make it, the situation has the potential to put Pawlenty in a bind - if he is faced with a less-than-ideal stadium bill, perhaps one that raises taxes, can he afford to veto? If he does, he can expect a backlash from the very people whose expectations he has helped to raise, but he has already alienated anti-tax folks with the "health impact" thing. Stadiums aren't going to win elections for anybody, but they might be able to lose them for a few.

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I am vehemently opposed to your face. Go Twins!

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