Wednesday, April 26, 2006

PRESS RELEASE -- Taxpayers League of Minnesota on Twins Stadium Bill

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:17 PM |  

The Spending Binge Continues
Two Stadiums Down, One to Go

ST. PAUL—Today’s votes on the Twins Stadium are further proof that the Minnesota Legislature is on a spending binge that shows no sign of slowing down.

In a 64-66 vote the Minnesota House defeated an amendment that would have required a referendum before a sales tax increase to fund a new Twins Stadium would be imposed on the residents of Hennepin County. This vote makes passage of a bill building a new Twins Stadium with taxpayer funding substantially more likely than at any time in recent memory.

If the Hennepin County plan gets approved, taxpayer subsidies to fund the new development would total $696 million in principal and interest. The already approved (by the House) Gophers stadium will cost taxpayers another $235 million. If the Vikings stadium is passed as well, taxpayers would be on the hook for another $960 million in capital and interest. The total for all 3 stadiums would stick taxpayers with a whopping $1.9 billion in new debt obligations. Of that, the state would be on the hook for about $630 million, Anoka County $560 million, and Hennepin County $695 million.

“Taxpayers are getting reamed this session. The House has already passed a billion-dollar bonding bill, is on track to passing two or three stadiums, and is likely to accept nearly a billion dollars in additional liability for the Minneapolis teachers’ pensions. Unless something stops this spending spree, this legislature could be piling on $3 billion or more in public debt in one session alone,” said David Strom, President of the Taxpayers League.

“This is an almost unprecedented spending binge in one session, and there is no relief in sight for taxpayers. Last year seemed to be the do-nothing session, complete with a government shutdown; this session could be the do-anything session, piling up government debt at an almost unprecedented rate,” Strom said.

Republicans in Washington DC are getting criticized by conservatives across the country for having lost all restraint in spending, and President Bush is taking heat for never having vetoed a bill. The most recent declines in Bush’s approval ratings are being driven especially by dissatisfaction among Republicans with his performance, and approval ratings of Congress are far lower than the Republican “base” vote.

“What is happening in St Paul is duplicating exactly what has made people unhappy with the current leadership in D.C. It would not surprise me at all is the political trend that is hurting Republicans nationally is reinforced by what is happening at the State Legislature this session. I would not be surprised to see that the current spending binge we are seeing in Washington and St Paul is followed by a political purge that comes this November,” said Strom.

“Adding on billions of dollars of new debt for taxpayers is going to do nothing to inspire confidence in the fiscal prudence of our political leaders,” Strom concluded.

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is the state’s largest taxpayers advocacy organization and David Strom is the group's president.