Fight for Vikings stadium ramps up -- debate on Monday could get ugly
ST. PAUL - Monday's Vikings stadium debate could be bruising and lengthy.
Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton's Friday veto of a seemingly unrelated Republican tax plan set off a battle about priorities and compromises, possibly previewing what to expect when the state House takes up the stadium bill Monday.
"By vetoing the Legislature's tax bill for 2012, the governor, I believe, just burned what may have been the last bridge to working cooperatively with legislators at the Capitol," said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen. "He vetoed our highest priority, and I think there will be consequences."
The stadium is one of Dayton's top priorities, Ortman said. The tax bill veto may have caused some lawmakers to question why they should support his priorities when he vetoed theirs, she warned.
The House could take up the bill Monday afternoon or evening, most likely after debate on a public works financing bill. It is not clear if the Senate could begin its debate Monday or wait until later in the week.
House bill author Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the best thing he and others can do for those who are undecided is answer their questions and address concerns.
"I think we have a good chance," he said. But "there are some people who don't declare their vote until they push the button."
In the Senate, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmount, said she has been talking with Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, about votes for the bill.
"We have a little work to do, but we're on the same page," Rosen said.
Dayton said he hopes Friday's tax bill veto will not affect next week's stadium vote and rejected it quickly to keep it from becoming a "negotiation tactic."
"I don't think it should be related in any way," he said. "I hope that legislators will separate the issues."
Dayton said he has made it clear he does not want the stadium tied to any other issues or involved in a legislative session-ending deal.
Even if the bills are successful in the House and Senate, there still will be plenty of work to do. The two versions have to be combined into one bill and then receive new House and Senate votes, and time is winding down before the Legislature must adjourn.
"It's going to be a very short turnaround," Lanning said.
The plan to be debated Monday would have the state contributing $398 million toward stadium construction of the $975 million stadium on the Metrodome site in Minneapolis. That piece would funded by allowing for electronic pull tab and bingo devices.
The Vikings and other private sources would contribute $427 million, while Minneapolis would add $150 million.
Danielle Nordine reports for Forum Communications Co.