Lawmaker calls for Senate hearing on e-pulltab revenues, estimates

Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge)

This is a cross-post from MPR’s Capitol View blog, from Capitol reporter Tom Scheck:

One of the most vocal critics of public financing for the Vikings stadium is calling on the Legislature to hold hearings on the problems with the revenue estimates put forward by the Dayton administration.

The state’s funding portion of the stadium is supposed to come from electronic pull-tab revenue. But the pulltabs are generating only a small fraction of the money they were projected to. Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, says he wants the Senate Finance Committee to investigate the matter:

“The revenues are 95 percent short and the governor says that’s not a big deal. That’s a big deal. We need to start addressing this legislatively to figure out how did we get here with numbers that are 95 percent wrong, how are we going to make up this money, how are we not going to stick Minnesota taxpayers with $25 million a year to pay for a stadium over the next thirty years.”

Governor Dayton said earlier this week that he thinks there is enough time for the revenue from electronic pull-tabs to catch up. He also noted that a suite tax and a sports-themed lottery game are backup financing options for the stadium.

The chair of the Senate Finance Committee is rebuffing Nienow’s request to hold a hearing. Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, says he is also concerned about the projections but said a hearing at this point would be premature. He said his staff is working on crafting a two-year budget and doesn’t have time to do research on the pull-tab revenue.

“We’re going to have to see where it leads but if we’re going to do it an intelligent way, we’ll do it substantively and not in a free for all committee hearing,” Cohen said.

Cohen also said he thought Nienow’s request may be better suited for the Legislative Auditor. Cohen says the Legislative Auditor has the capacity to do larger investigations.

Here’s Nienow’s letter to Senate Finance Chair Dick Cohen: