Monday, April 25, 2005

Twins chump change 

Over at the Sports Economist, Phil Miller reports on the possibility of a new stadium for the Twins, to be paid in part by a 0.15 sales tax surcharge. Phil quotes from a STrib article:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, both said on Saturday that they would support the proposal.

"This is a very workable plan because it does not require any state general fund money," Johnson said. "Three cents on $20 falls out of most people's pockets before breakfast."

So it's workable because the state doesn't have to pay for it. It's workable as well because the city's residents don't get to vote on it, with only a government official saying they would "keep the public's involvement as reasonable as possible." Governor Pawlenty says only that he needs to see the details.

They tried this before, in St. Paul. There they voted, and the voters said no.

As Phil also points out that, since the bonds would be issued generally by the municipality and backed by sales taxes, they would be tax-exempt. This guarantees that Hennepin County will get a lower interest rate on the bonds; the extra cost is transferred to the federal government in lost income tax revenue on interest payments. Like many stadium deals, this one is a massive transfer to Pohlad or his successor, leveraging a $125 million investment into a $468 million stadium. We'll wait to see what the details are, but betting on taxpayers getting the better part of this deal is like betting on Shannon Stewart throwing out anyone at home plate.

Chad the Elder succumbs to the siren song of OPM. (Though please do not malign the movie of the same name: There is a scene of the back of Penelope Ann Miller walking upstairs that still causes shivers, and the stockholders meeting clip is one of my favorites.)

UPDATE: They don't like market economies around Fenway either, as John LaPlante points out.