Friday night, Almanac’s Mary Lahammer interviewed Rep. Steve Drazkowski about the Vikings stadium bill. Several things jumped out at me but three things jumped out above the rest. Here’s one of the things that jumped out at me:
MS. LAHAMMER: Why isn’t it possible? Everyone’s saying ‘It’s a new technology.’ They’re saying it’s flashy and new. Shouldn’t that attract new people?
REP. DRAZKOWSKI: All of the 2,500 sites across Minnesota that would be doing this, Mary, would have to increase by a ticket per minute, 365 days a year, 17 hours per day. An additional ticket per minute above what they’re currently doing now. That’s hard to believe.
MS. LAHAMMER: But the proponents of this say their estimates are conservative. They say they’re not even close to aggressive.You don’t buy it?
It’s predictable that proponents would say that everything’s fine, that there isn’t a shortfall, that their opponents are way off in left field. Attempting to discredit your opponents is a time-tested technique in debating. That leads to the next thing that jumped out at me:
REP. DRAZKOWSKI: All that’s interesting. The bill that existed last year was actually budget neutral, the charitable gaming bill. Now that’s a night and day difference between that bill and this bill in terms of what it’s expected to produce. I don’t remember the numbers that were projected in terms of revenue in that bill but they were just a small fraction of what they’re projecting in this one.
Rep. Drazkowski deserves praise for dragging the argument back from the theoretical into reality. Comparing apples to apples is the last thing the pro-Vikings stadium lobbyists want at this point. They want the debate focused on who’s the biggest Vikings fans. The last thing the pro-Vikings stadium lobbyists want is a serious policy-based conversation.
It isn’t a stretch to think that pro-Vikings stadium lobbyists are as frightened of serious policy-based conversations as vampires hate wooden stakes.
Finally, this part should be focused on by every taxpaying Minnesotan:
REP. DRAZKOWSKI: There’s some fundamental problems with the financing structure behind it.
That sentence should frighten every taxpayer because of its potential impact on Minnesota’s general fund budget. It’s one thing to get the bonding wrong on a $20,000 project. You might not even get hurt if you get the bonding wrong on a $200,000 bonding project.
Getting the financing wrong on a $400,000,000 project is potentially disastrous for a decade or more. Friends know that I’m a passionate Vikings fan. In fact, I spent all day Thursday, all day Friday and most of Saturday watching the NFL Entry Draft just to see if the Vikings could fill the holes in their roster. (FYI- More on that later today.)
This isn’t about who’s the biggest Vikings fan. It’s about fiscal sanity. It’s about the legislature being the taxpayers’ watchdog. At this point, there are some who are intent on being the taxpayers’ watchdog. There are others who are intent on proving that they’re great Vikings fans.
Minnesota can’t afford to get this wrong.