Will pulltabs pull their weight?

MPR Photo/Annie Baxter

Uh oh.

The new state budget forecast is out for the next biennium. That’s economist Tom Stinson delivering the news. And while it’s got some doozies among the caveats, like the potential impact of the fiscal cliff, there’s some other bad news in there, too. The money isn’t going to be coming in from electronic pulltabs like the state had hoped. Here’s the relevant language in the MMB budget forecast:

As part of the Vikings stadium financing enacted in 2012, a small reserve was created within the state general fund. Unlike the cash flow and budget reserves, the stadium reserve is a bookkeeping account that simply reflects the balance of forecast revenue from the expanded gambling matched against forecast expenditures for stadium related costs.

For FY 2013, the projected reserve balance has been reduced from $34 to $16 million. Projected new gambling revenues from stadium legislation are expected to be $18 million (51 percent) below end-of-session estimates. For both the FY 2014-15 and FY 2016-17 biennia, estimates have been reduced $9 million (7.7 percent). The forecast reduction reflects a slower than expected implementation of electronic gaming options and reduced estimates for daily revenue per gaming device. As a result, the stadium reserve balance is now expected to be $47 million by the end of 2017, $36 million lower than end-of- session estimates.

What does that mean? For now, not much. The state isn’t spending that much, relatively speaking, on the stadium right now. Nothing like the $3 million a month or so rate it’ll be shelling out once the bonds actually get sold and the bills start coming due. State finance experts say it isn’t anything to worry about for the moment: they say it just means there won’t be as much money in the bank at the start of the deal, but that this isn’t an indication of the future performance of the stadium financing plan.