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GOP Vikings pitch ties funding to business tax cuts

Jake Grovum//February 23, 2012

GOP Vikings pitch ties funding to business tax cuts

Jake Grovum//February 23, 2012

Sens. Chamberlain, Hann, and Wolf address the media.

A new Republican pitch for a Vikings stadium would increase taxes on activities and items directly tied to the venue, and pairs the proposal with a phase-out of the statewide business property tax that legislative Republicans have called a top priority this session.

The possibility that Republicans might tie the business property tax phase-out to the stadium push was first reported in PIM’s morning newsletter PIM Confidential.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain and other Republicans unveiling the proposal at a Capitol news conference Thursday said theirs is the only of many stadium proposals that can pass the Legislature. Click here to see the initial text of the bill.

But just about an hour later, Gov. Mark Dayton blasted the proposal to tie the stadium to the business property tax phase-out, saying any such plan would only raise taxes on the rest of Minnesotans who wouldn’t see the tax break.

“The Party of property tax increases is at it again,” he said. “I will not raise taxes on the people of Minnesota to build a new stadium – not property taxes and not any other general tax.”

The stadium financing plan would rely on the support of the business community, local governments and state bonds that would be directly tied to the 10 percent tax rate on eight categories of items on everything from parking, tickets and memorabilia tied to the stadium.

That dedicated funding stream, Chamberlain said, could allow the state to receive a lower rate on the bonds.

Those bonds could fund as much as a $200 million or $350 million share of the stadium’s cost, he said, and it would be up to the Vikings and other stakeholders to decide how much more they’re able to raise or contribute toward the rest of the effort.

There would be no cap on the cost of the stadium, and GOP Rep. Linda Runbeck called that feature a kind of “governor” on the plan. In effect, it would be up to the team and stakeholders to decide how expensive they wanted the stadium to be.

As to efforts to fund the stadium through gaming revenue, Chamberlain and Sen. David Hann, rejected that idea.

“It’s a tax by another name,” Chamberlain said of gambling. Hann, for his part, said there weren’t the votes to accept gaming revenue as a budget fix, and there’s no reason to think lawmakers would acquiesce to such a proposal to pay for a stadium.

Chamberlain and Hann didn’t say the business property tax phase-out must be included in the bill, but they said they viewed it as essential to gain Republican and business community support –the former, for their votes, and the latter for their dollars.

Asked whether any businesses have committed to contributing to the stadium, though, Chamberlain said the community has been open to listening, but none have committed. He also admitted that the Vikings were skeptical of their plan, and that he had yet to talk with Dayton about the latest proposal.

The plan is not tied to any particular site, although broader stadium discussions lately have focused on a Minneapolis site near the Metrodome.

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