Minnesota politicians Bakk, Dill visit Two HarborsAbout 40 people from around the area woke up early and drove themselves to the Two Harbors Community Center for a town hall meeting with Representative David Dill and Minority Leader Senator Tom Bakk last Saturday.
About 40 people from around the area woke up early and drove themselves to the Two Harbors Community Center for a town hall meeting with Representative David Dill and Minority Leader Senator Tom Bakk last Saturday.
Attendees who visited asked questions about the proposed new Vikings stadium and the upcoming elections this November.
Town hall organizer Maryls Wisch said she organized the meeting to make the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party more visible to people from around the area. “People have questions about the community,” she said.
Two Harbors resident Tom Koehler said that he opposed the stadium and that the money could be better used elsewhere like in the Lake Superior School District. Students currently go to school four days a week. A switch to the four-day school week was made last year in hopes of saving money on transportation and other costs. “They can build the stadium, that’s fine. But don’t use one thin dime of our tax money on it,” he said.
But another town hall meeting attendee pointed out that the stadium’s games brought in customers to local bars and restaurants which helped to bolster the local economy. Rep. Dill said he’d heard from local business owners that professional sports were important to them. “Those bar owners and restaurant owners are saying ‘We want the Twins. We want the Vikings,’” he said.
Bakk said that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf paid about $21 million in income taxes. “If he leaves, that’s $21 million gone,” he said.
But both Rep. Dill and Sen. Bakk said that the funds to build the new stadium could not come from the general fund. “Absolutely not,” Rep. Dill said.
According to the Minnesota Management and Budget Department the general fund “receives the major state taxes on income, sales, corporate income, alcohol and tobacco, and the Legislature appropriates these funds for public purposes.” Sen. Bakk said a “boatload of better uses” existed for the general fund but the stadium could be built if “new money” or “another revenue stream that’s connected to the facility” could be found.
Sen. Bakk touched upon the issue of an affiliate nexus tax, a sales tax that consumers would have to pay on purchases they buy from online businesses like Amazon that have affiliates in their state.
Bakk said that he would like to pass this bill early for Minnesota retailers like Best Buy and Target who are “badly hurt” by online sales. He said that Republicans are characterizing it as a tax increase. “My answer back is: No. It’s tax compliance. Because the truth is Minnesotans did buy stuff online and still owe this tax. It’s called a use tax,” Sen. Bakk said. “They’re supposed to pay it when they pay their income tax, but very few people do.”
Sen. Bakk said that he was looking forward to recapturing a Democratic majority in the State Senate. The Republicans took control of the Senate with a majority of 37-30 after the 2010 elections for the first time in 38 years. Sen. Bakk felt Minnesotans will vote on the other side of the ballot this fall. “I think the current representation of the Legislature doesn’t reflect the Minnesota I know and I think the pendulum will swing back and balance out more after the 2012 elections,” he said.