Governor faces questions about Vikings stadium funding

9:24 AM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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Sample electronic pull-tab device

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton defended himself Tuesday after he recently told reporters he was unaware the gambling industry gave input on revenue projections involving electronic pull tabs.

It's the same industry that could benefit the most from the use e-pull tabs.

"I don't track every legislative hearing and there was a tremendous amount of things going on in the last weeks of the session," said the DFL governor.

The projections have not even come close to reality. The state originally estimated e-pull tabs would generate about $35 million in tax revenue in 2013. That's been downsized to just under two million.

"It didn't meet the initial projections and we'll meet to correct that," said Dayton.

The governor says it is premature to hit the panic button and says we should give the pull tabs a chance. He also points to two funding backups if the pull tab numbers fall short, including a suite tax and an NFL-themed lottery.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated they do not want to wait long to look for a potential fix. They plan to bring the issue up this legislative session.

"I hit the panic button the week after the vote was made," said GOP State Representative Bob Barrett, of Shafer.

Barrett voted against the Vikings stadium bill. He says the governor and those who voted for it in the legislature, including some of Barrett's Republican colleagues, should be held accountable.

"There are leaders that should have looked at the numbers 10 times more in depth than I did," said Barrett.

"This was a classic example of pressure politics," added Professor David Schultz.

Schultz is a legislative expert and professor at Hamline University School of Law. He just authored a book entitled, "American Politics in the Age of Ignorance: Why Lawmakers Choose Belief over Research."

It is a topic he believes can be applied to the debate about the vitality of the electronic pull tabs.

Although he believes the revenue numbers could still rebound, he tells KARE 11 the issue shows us that sometimes pressure to act can possibly do more harm than good.

"The broader concern is really sort of a dereliction of duty on part of the governor's office and the legislature not to actually do their due diligence," said Schultz.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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