Stadium in an ideological trapPublished 10:31am Monday, May 7, 2012
In a column a couple weeks ago, I identified, and essentially tried to debunk, several reasons why the Legislature would fail to approve state funding for a Vikings stadium.
There was one big one, however, that didn’t dawn on me until this week: That the Republicans would not vote for it unless Gov. Dayton signed their bills.
On Monday, there will be a vote in the Legislature on the Vikings’ stadium, essentially using electronic pulltabs to finance the state’s portion of it.
However, the Speaker of the House, Kurt Zellers, will vote against it, unless Dayton signs the tax bill the Legislature sent to him Thursday.
Tit for tat? Quid pro quo? Holding the Governor’s feet to the fire. Clearly, the reasons for the delay in the Vikings stadium vote that had been convoluted for months have suddenly become very clear.
Remember that the state shutdown last year had to do with differences in ideologies — Republicans’ refusal to raise taxes on the rich, Dayton’s refusal to cut spending as deeply as the Republicans. Those stark differences have not changed.
The Legislature continues to pass bills that represent Republican ideologies: Cutting business taxes (helping the rich, Dems say), requiring identification for voters (disenfranchising less fortunate individuals, Dems say), allowing employees to opt out of union membership (weakening unions, Dems say) are among the many.
Dayton, a “died-in-the-wool” Democrat, has essentially vetoed all of them. I’m convinced Dayton’s consistent vetoes have little to do with concerns about getting re-elected. Based on his personal history (he stepped down after only one term as a U.S. Senator), Dayton could care less about getting re-elected. Dayton stands for all that is liberal — supporting government programs that help the poor, promoting policies that help unions, and taxing those who can afford it, for example. Signing Republican bills — and I think it’s fair to say that many of these bills represent GOP ideology on steroids — to Dayton would be the equivalent of letting a murderer go free.
Because this is not a budget year, the Legislature technically does not have to pass anything. There will be no state shutdown this year. If no bills are enacted, so be it.
However, Legislative leaders such as Zellers know that Dayton wants to pass a Vikings’ stadium bill. It’s the one issue in which Dayton strays from his liberal core.
After all, using public funds to help a billionaire sports team owner, when there certainly are poor people who could use the money, isn’t exactly liberal thinking. In fact, one of the issues is that Dayton isn’t getting help on the Vikings stadium from many Minneapolis-based DFL legislators, because they think precisely that way.
Vikings lobbyists claim they can come up with enough votes not to need the support of Zellers and those who support him. But clearly, the vote is going to be close.
So this weekend, with the tax bill staring him in the face and a vote on the Vikings stadium on Monday, Dayton will have a rather difficult decision to make.
Does he make bedfellows with the devil (in his mind, the Republicans) and sign the tax bill? Or does he veto it, putting the blood that represents the Vikings leaving Minnesota on his hands? I wish him the best.
In the meantime, if the Vikings stadium vote fails, the Legislature and Dayton will no doubt blame each other. The real truth: voters have no one to blame but themselves. Minnesotans apparently thought we would have “balance” by electing a DFL governor and a Republican Legislature, both of which are at the teetering ends of their parties’ ideologies.
What we received was a morass of do-nothing, screeching gridlock willing to let the Vikings leave for no other reason than to stick it to the other side.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. E-mail him at email@example.com