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June 3, 2006
State GOP: No Taxation Without Voter Approbation

The Minnesota Republican convention overwhelmingly rejected the efforts of the current state legislature to fund a Twins stadium through the imposition of taxes without voter input, with 76% of all delegates adding a platform statement requiring any such revenue device to be put before the voters affected. This answers a bipartisan effort that has saddled the seven-county Metro area with a sales tax addition that will cost Twin Cities shoppers millions of dollars, all going to fund a new playground for millionaires:

A new state Republican Party platform plank calling for voter approval of local sales taxes for professional sports stadiums was overwhelmingly adopted Friday by state convention delegates.

The vote, which received 76 percent of the delegates' support, was a rebuff to Gov. Tim Pawlenty and dozens of Republican legislators who backed a 0.15 percent Hennepin County sales tax for a new Twins ballpark in Minneapolis. Pawlenty signed legislation on May 26 authorizing the county board to increase the tax without a referendum.

State Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, cochairman of the platform committee, noted, however, that the new plank replaced one opposing any use of taxes for sports, entertainment or the arts.

Republicans and Democrats alike put that tax on the metro area, replacing one that solely targeted Hennepin County despite the law prohibiting such taxes without a voter referendum. The House simply ignored its own law, but the state Senate got a little craftier, replacing the Hennepin-only tax with one that will get applied to all applicable sales within the greater metropolitan region. Although it only applies to seven of Minnesota's dozens of counties, it will affect almost half of the state's population. The measure will raise millions of dollars to build a private stadium for the Twins, a team wholly owned by a billionaire and fielded by millionaires.

The plank replaces one that opposed any public funds for stadium construction, but in the end it means the same result. Public investment in a baseball or football stadium has remained unpopular in Minnesota, creating an odd amalgam of fiscal conservatives who resent tax dollars getting redirected to private parties for their own benefit, and liberals who want the money spent on government programs rather than billionaire welfare. The message from the electorate has been consistent, but the legislature has not listened, and that deafness has affected both parties.

The GOP delegates have made clear that Republicans will not support these efforts. If the politicians do not start listening, they will find the next convention a much more hostile environment.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 3, 2006 10:28 AM

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