A new plan for a Vikings stadium is in place but the deal isn't sealed yet.
The plan faces a tough road in the Legislature.
The Minneapolis City Council is also skeptical.
Here's a deeper dive into the numbers in the plan.
Under the Dome
The Senate Finance Committee approved a constitutional amendment that would require people to show photo identification to vote.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler wants a year-round academic calendar.
MPR has a look at what some schools have been doing as a result of the K12 shift.
University of Minnesota researchers updated the number of mesothelioma deaths among Iron Range workers.
The DNR's new online and phone reservation system crashed on launch.
The U.S. House passed the St. Croix bridge bill.
Stillwater residents react to the bridge bill vote.
Leech Lake Ojibwe testify to a House panel over a land dispute.
The Senate defeated a bill that would reverse the birth control rule.
The nation's unemployment rate dropped again.
MPR says Minnesota also got a dose of good news. It includes a lower unemployment rate, a likely growth in factory jobs and stronger sales at Target Corp.
Race for U.S. Senate
Republican Pete Hegseth, an Afghanistan war vet, officially announced his campaign against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
MinnPost says Hegseth hasn't outlined specifics for many of his policy positions.
Race for Congress
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack is holding a town hall forum in Gilbert on Saturday at 10am.
Race for President
President Obama presses to end subsidies for oil and gas companies.
Mr. Obama was heckled at a New York City fundraiser over a possible war with Iran.
ABC News says Mitt Romney touted his connections to the federal government and his ability to get federal funds in 2002.
Romney campaigned in Fargo on Thursday. He criticized President Obama on energy and the budget.
First Lady Michelle Obama is coming to Minnesota on March 16.
Rick Santorum criticized Romney over contraception.
A new national poll says Romney is widening his lead over Santorum.
The New York Times says the Romney campaign has a "whatever-it-takes" playbook when it comes to defeating their challengers.(1 Comments)
Posted at 12:00 PM on March 2, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
Two of the key negotiators of this week's deal for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis were taking questions again this morning, in what's commonly known as an "ed board call," the informal, wide-ranging discussions that policy makers often offer to newspaper editorial boards.
And while much of it was boiler-plate detail on the stadium deal, the pair rebutted some of the key doubts about the deal, as it's been floating around in negotiations for weeks. (That's a picture of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, by the way, and the model planners are using for the new Minnesota version.)
Let's start with the money.
Metropolitan Sports Facility Chairman Ted Mondale said the electronic pull-tab financing mechanism for the state's $400 million share is solid, despite questions about gambling revenue projections and the bonds the state intends to sell. Mondale also seemed to be hinting that he's not worried about charitable gambling operators' complaints about their taxes:
"As it relates to the revenue estimates. We believe that the total pot in the first year will be $72 million. There will be a final negotiation when the bill goes through with the bars and the restaurants, but we think their revenue almost doubles. After their revenue doubles they want a tax break? Which would have been the easiest thing in this term sheet to negotiate. So we're thinking at a minimum the state is going to have $62 million in, and we're starting at the high 30s to be able to finance this over the period of time. So if we have to go higher for coverage, there is that revenue from the pull tabs to be able to do that. But at this point, the route is the appropriation bonds, which again, has been used before. It puts the full faith and credit of the state behind it, but we think its almost 2 to 1 on the revenue coming in, and if you look at once this is established in the out years, it's 3-to-1, 4-to-1."
It may be that Allied Charities of Minnesota has a gut-check ahead on their electronic pull-tab bill.
Mondale also explained how the deal will get around the city's charter amendment. Voters in Minneapolis capped spending on pro sports at $10 million in a 1997 referendum.
Mondale said that the city will be bonding for $548 million dollars in appropriation bonds to pay both the state and local share of a new Vikings stadium.
"The city through the local option sales taxes will pay the state back for the bonds," Mondale said. "Amending the special law, we'll have the state collecting and holding onto those dollars. So there's no need to be able to worry about the charter amendment."
The "special law" is the measure that enacted the sales taxes in Minneapolis in the first place, which, according to the state constitution, requires assent from the city which the law effects. That's likely the "city council approval" that Gov. Mark Dayton made reference to at the announcement of a deal on Thursday.
Which brings up a third point the pair addressed today: How does Minneapolis get to "Yes"?
The language in the state's Constitution is kind of intriguing:
"The Legislature may enact special laws relating to local government units, but a special law, unless otherwise provided by general law, shall become effective only after its approval by the affected unit expressed through the voters or the governing body and by such majority as the Legislature may direct."
Here's how Minneapoils Mayor R.T. Rybak sees that working:
"The Legislature will hopefully pass it, and then it will come to the city council, where as I understand it the only part of it the state requires is the Vikings part of it. Then the city has the ability to use those economic development dollars as it chooses. As I've said from the beginning, I need this all tied together as a package with Target Center, convention center and Vikings."
But he confirmed that the city may not actually wait for the Legislature to ask. He said the city is considering a non-binding resolution from the city council in support of a prospective stadium deal.
"While the city doesn't have to act until after the legislature," Rybak said, "Its clear to me that we have to demonstrate our support. So we're exploring ways to get that done."
So keep an eye on that Minneapolis City Council agenda.
Photo: Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.
With gas prices on the rise, Republicans are taking on the Obama administration for not doing enough to support domestic energy production.
It's a talking point the National Republican Congressional Committee is using against U.S. House Democrats it seeks to unseat in this year's election.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who represents Minnesota's 1st District, is among the lawmakers the NRCC has targeted.
"Despite his lip service now that gas prices are at record highs, Tim Walz has a clear record of discouraging badly needed energy independence," NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay wrote in a Feb. 29, 2012 press release.
In fact, Walz has a clear record of encouraging domestic energy production.
To support its claim, the NRCC points to Walz's recent vote against a bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico and allow the Keystone XL oil pipeline to move forward.
The bill passed with the help of 21 Democrats, but Walz was not among them. His spokesman said that Walz did not agree with drilling in Alaska, but that he did support every amendment to the legislation that would have allowed the Keystone pipeline to move forward.
NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek also pointed out in an e-mail that Walz voted against legislation that would have sped up Environmental Protection Agency air-permitting decisions on off-shore drilling proposals and a separate bill that would have required the president to speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
But while Walz did vote against those bills, it's unfair to say that he has a "clear record" of discouraging energy independence.
In the summer of 2008, when oil prices skyrocketed, Walz was part of a bipartisan group that proposed legislation that would allow more offshore oil drilling and use the royalties to help pay for alternative forms of energy.
Three years later, Walz, and other members of the original group, among them Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota's 3rd District, reintroduced that legislation. It included provisions to use royalties to expand alternative energy and energy efficiency, improve roads and bridges, and shrink the deficit.
In 2009, Walz and Paulsen also teamed up with business and labor groups to call on the Minnesota Legislature to repeal a law that blocks nuclear power plants from being built in the state. A bill to lift the ban stalled in the Legislature last year. The duo has also praised President Barack Obama for pushing nuclear energy production nationwide.
It's true that Walz has not always backed Republican efforts to expand domestic energy production. But since he became a member of Congress, Walz has been involved in other high-profile efforts to allow more offshore drilling and nuclear energy production, frequently with members of the Republican party.
The NRCC's claim is false.
Clerk of the House, Final Vote Results for Roll Call 71, Feb. 16, 2012
Clerk of the House, Final Vote Results for Roll Call 650, July 26, 2011
The Hill, House Passes GOP Energy Bill, By Pete Kasperowicz, Feb. 16, 2012
Mankato Free Press, Oil gridlock under attack Walz part of bipartisan group, By Mark Fischenich, July 30, 2008
H.R. 1861, accessed March 2, 2012
Website of Congressman Tim Walz, Congressman Walz and Congressman Paulsen Join Broad Coalition in Support of Bipartisan, Comprehensive Approach to Energy Independence, accessed March 2, 2012
Minnesota Public Radio News, Walz and Paulsen push bipartisan energy plan, by Brett Neely, May 12, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, Reps. Paulsen and Walz call to lift ban on nuclear power, by Tom Scheck, November 24, 2009
The Star Tribune, A consensus is emerging on nuclear power, by Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz, March 2, 2010
E-mail exchange Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman, NRCC, March 2, 2012
Interview, Tony Ufkin, spokesman, Rep. Tim Walz, March 2, 2012
Tom Gillaspy will become one of the statistics that he carefully tracked next week when he retires as Minnesota State Demographer.
Gillaspy steps down Tuesday after more than 32 years of public service. He was the state's chief source of demographic data and analysis since 1979. A news release today from the Department of Administration said that Gillaspy's tenure as state demographer spanned six governors and four national censuses.
"It's been quite an interesting and fun time," Gillaspy said. "We've seen so many demographic changes and all these changes have affected programs and budgets and have had a big impact on the state. There have been ups and downs, and lots of challenges, but it's always been interesting."
The release said Gillaspy's plans for retirement include regular speaking engagements, consulting work and a teaching position at the University of Minnesota. Susan Brower will take over as state demographer.
The folks that may be footing part of the bill for a Vikings stadium are raising questions about whether they'll show up for kickoff.
Allied Charities of Minnesota is the trade group for Minnesota's $1 billon charitable gambling industry. Executive director King Wilson says they paid about $37 million in taxes on their proceeds last year -- nearly half of the charities' take, in some cases, Wilson says. (That's him at left, with an electronic pull tab machine.)
The trade group originally pitched an expansion of their operations into electronic pull- tabs to put more money on their bottom line, only to find the idea appropriated to fund a Vikings stadium.
Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission chairman Ted Mondale said today that the state could easily pay debt service on $400 million in stadium bonds with the marginal taxes on new electronic pull tabs. State revenue experts put the proceeds at $72 million a year.
Doubters have questioned that, in part because Minnesota would be the first state in the nation to implement the devices for gambling. There isn't necessarily a lot of history to base projections on. But Mondale said today the debt service would only use a little more than half that figure -- suggesting there's room for error.
But he also questioned why gambling operators should get a tax break when they're making more money.
Wilson responds thusly: He says the extra business could push charities into a higher tax bracket -- nearly 7 percent of their sales. On top of an 85 percent prize payout to keep players coming back, Wilson says there isn't enough left to cover expenses and pay anything to beneficiaries like youth sports.
"We're just not convinced, without some significant tax relief and reform that these are economically viable and that they'll work," he said. "I sent an email alert out last night, and I got several folks that got back to me, basically saying that if we don't get tax relief, we're not going to do the (electronic) pull-tabs."
But he's not backing down, either: "It appears to me to be clear that that the administration isn't open to tax relief. That's their perogative."
And it sounds like chartiable gambling operators may be begging to differ as the stadium endgame approaches at the Capitol.(1 Comments)