To the lawmakers of Minnesota,
I agree - it would be bad news to lose the Minnesota Vikings. Not because they may one day be a championship bound team or because every Minnesotan loves football, but because it shows Minnesotans that their elected officials cannot actually do the job they were hired to do. It would be a poor showing if within the same twelve months the state government was brought to a near halt and because a major sports team was lost. I would guess that if you asked, most Minnesotans would love to keep the Vikings in the state - so representatives, make it happen.
And when I say make it happen, I mean think about your proposals. This bill would have been funded by pull-tabs. Really?! No offence, but in my mind, the only thing less certain than gambling is gambling on gambling. Yes, you will probably make it painfully obvious that in gambling the gamblers are actually supporting a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. I am sure there would be some people who would be inclined to do this just because they love the Vikings, but is that an honest attempt at finding a solution or an idea someone came up with in a hurry in order to make it feel like a bipartisan solution?
We're not talking about a minuscule amount of money here either. The projected price is very close to one billion dollars, as you probably know. At this price, even if the Vikings pick up around half of the cost, we're still talking about half of a billion dollars that has to come from somewhere. We can't cut school or infrastructure - that is bad for everyone. We can't tax more - that is bad for reelection. So what do we do (if you say pull-tabs one more time...)?
I have a couple of ideas. They don't involve raising taxes and they make a more fair playing field for companies in the state. They are also sustaining sources so once the Vikings' stadium is built, Minnesota will have more income than it did before. That being said, they aren't going to win you any popularity contests. I think we are mature enough to admit that the right decision often isn't the most popular.
My first idea - and I know it's been suggested to the state before and defeated, is to open liquor stores on Sundays. Perhaps I feel this will make a bigger impact because I live close to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border where if I need liquor on Sunday, I just have to drive an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get it. Forcing liquor stores to be closed on Sunday takes away from their sales. Note - I am not saying that we mandate a seven day doors open policy, rather, just give the stores the option to be open on Sundays. And instead of one of our bordering states getting the tax revenue, we can have that and put it towards a new Vikings' stadium.
Another idea I would like explored is the taxing of all new online purchases. We have great companies here in Minnesota. Target and Best Buy come to mind when I think of large retailers born within our state. It's not easy being competitive as a physical retailer in a world that is going digital. Best Buy had to close many stores and had a significant number of layoffs already this year. The problem is that when I go into a Best Buy and see a great digital camera or TV - I want it and I don't want to have to pay a whole ton for it. One way to do this is go and buy the product online. Even if Best Buy can price match Amazon.com, it's products are still going to cost between 6 and 7 percent more because of taxes. By adding sales tax to online purchases, you are supporting domestic companies while also increasing tax revenue to an estimated four hundred million dollars (estimated by your own Myron Frans according to MPR).
Two ideas - neither universally popular, but both nearly guaranteed to increase state revenue enough to support a new Vikings stadium and balance our budget.
Thank you for considering one Minnesotan's ideas on how we can help keep the Vikings the Minnesota Vikings.
A Fellow Minnesotan