by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton today (Tuesday, May 10) indicated an announcement concerning the Vikings stadium could be coming this afternoon.
Dayton said only a few minutes before his 10:30 a.m. press conference he had been on the phone with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
“I think they’re excited,” Dayton said about the tone of the conversation.
Although not specifying whether the announcement had to do with a team decision on a proposed stadium location — downtown Minneapolis or Arden Hills — the governor did detail infrastructure improvement cost relating to the Arden Hills location.
He shared estimates from a consultant hired by the Vikings to review needed road improvement to the area — costs Dayton indicated that in his mind must be subtracted from the total $300 million the state would direct toward a stadium project.
Dayton brushed aside the argument that the roadwork in Arden Hills would have to have been done anyway. Not the that roads don’t need improvement, Dayton pointed out, but that other projects had higher priority.
Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel backed the governor. He styled the proposed road improvements near the Arden Hills site as “nothing we had planned for sometime.”
The needed infrastructure work, depending on the extent of the development at the proposed Arden Hills site near the old ammunition plant, could cost as much as $240 million.
Dayton indicated no personal preference for either the City of Minneapolis stadium proposal of yesterday, nor the Ramsey County proposal that could site a stadium in Arden Hills. But the governor indicated the $300 million cap would apply at either site.
Dayton indicated he believed a stadium bill could be accomplished within the remaining two weeks of the legislation session. “I think it’s very possible and very doable,” he said. “I would like to see it get done by midnight on May 23,” Dayton said, asked whether he would be willing to call a special session for the stadium should time in the session run out.
On the status of budget talks with the Republican Legislature, Dayton said Republican leaders and he met this morning and had a cordial meeting.
But Dayton repeated that he was unwilling to begin formal budget negotiations until all the Republican House and Senate budget bills had gone through conference committee and are based on perceived rational budgeting principles. “I’m here. And I’m available,” he said of meeting with Republicans.
Still, Dayton styled a meeting with state government finance conference committee chairmen yesterday as “candid.”
Dayton indicated that charges by Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, Senate Government Innovation and Veterans Committee chairman, that he instructed Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito how to depict the impact of proposed Republican budget cuts as untrue and “frankly insulting.”
A flap occurred over the alleged parroting of Dayton words by the former state adjutant general late last week — one that had Republicans charging the governor was using veterans for political purposes. “I’m being accused of problems they’re responsible for,” said Dayton.
Republicans want to “quibble” about certain budget consequences when many more would follow should they’re budget bills become law, he argued.
The governor spoke of Republicans eviscerating state government with their proposed state government cuts.
But Republican repeatedly speak of the state needing to live within it means, and point the lack of support for the governor’s proposed income tax increase on wealthier Minnesotans as evidence the governor is out of step.