Minnesota taxpayers may now be on the hook for millions of dollars to fund the new Vikings stadium due to grossly incorrect revenue projections that were relied upon to garner votes for the the stadium bill's passage last year.
Many legislators were vocally skeptical about the financing plan during the stadium bill's contentious passage. It now appears they were right.
New electronic games in bars and restaurants were projected to generate $35 million in annual revenue to replace the state's $348 million dollar share of the stadium tab that is to be paid from the general fund. Revenues in the latest budget forecast show the relied upon projection to be wildly inaccurate.
Projections have now been adjusted $1.7 million, a 95% reduction, leaving Minnesota $33.3 million short of the amount needed to meet the state's stadium obligation.
To put that in perspective, it would be like telling someone with a salary of $50,000, "Oops, we made an mistake. You're actually only going to make $2500 this year." Can you imagine?
To make matters worse, the plan's relied upon gambling revenue jumps from $35 to $58 million in 2014.
From the Star Tribune:
"The botched projections showing that electronic pulltab sales would explode in Minnesota and immediately start paying for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium were based largely on estimates made by gambling businesses with a vested interest in the new but untested form of charitable gaming."
Were Minnesotans lied to? Was there a known problem with the projections? Is this politics at its worst? How could stadium proponents possibly have been so wrong? It is hard to believe that a 95% error is just an accident.
Senator Sean Nienow is standing up for Minnesotans, calling for an investigation into the failed revenue estimates. "Citizens of Minnesota were duped by the Dayton administration, and now taxpayers are going to be on the hook for tens of millions every year for thirty years. I am calling for an immediate investigation into this massive failure," said Nienow in a recent press release.
The Governor was asked about the failed projections, and reacted with awkward facial expressions and shoulder shrugging. I'm no body language expert, but something here is not right. Let me know what you think in the comments section. It starts at the 1:36 mark:
In case you missed it, this is how Minnesota's Governor responds to being asked about a 95% failure in revenue generation that is supposed to be to be funding the new Vikings stadium:
"If Sen. Nienow wants to go out and...shoot his mouth off, then...if you want to investigate? Fine."
Dayton quipped about how an investigation would "waste taxpayers dollars," which would be funny if it weren't so sad. Where is his concern for the hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers may need to come up with to fund his administration's epic failure? Perhaps he's not worried because there is already a plan in place:
"...the State’s portion of the bonds, $348 million, will be repaid with revenues raised by the expansion of lawful charitable gambling outlined above. If these revenues are insufficient, the expectation is that other general fund money will be used to pay the bonds."
Translated: If the state fails to raise the gambling revenue needed, they will just take it from the general fund which means your taxes will have to go up.
Sen. Sean Nienow has called upon Senator Dick Cohen, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee to open an investigation into how these numbers could be so grossly innacurate. Nienow explained his goal, "If your income dropped 95 percent wouldn't you panic? Wouldn't you want to investigate how that happened to you? That's what I want for Minnesota."