Senate majority leader Tom Bakk, the DFLer from Cook, says he doesn't see the need for a fix for the shortfall on electronic pulltabs this session. The numbers have been coming in significantly below expectations, and the state last week wrote down a key reserve fund planned as part of the financing package.
"I don't think it'll happen this year," Bakk said in an interview today. "If we are still running short next session, I expect we're probably going to have to have some conversation. Those bonds are going to get sold this fall, and we're going to start to get some debt service on them. But... this year we're going to focus on the budget."
He says the state will have the cash to make the stadium mortgage payments, even if the pull tabs aren't pulling their financial weight. The appropriation bonds are backed by the state's general fund.
"I suspect that MMB is going to blink on those additional backup revenue streams, " Bakk said. "It'll just be a few months before we're back in session. They'll be money to make those early months of debt service. I'm not worried about that."
During an appearance on MPR's Dailiy Circuit, Bakk also raised the possibility that lawmakers might take a look at the upfront cost of getting pulltabs into bars. "There clearly is an issue there that we need to have some conversation about," he told Kerri Miller.
Senate minority leader David Hann offered a different solution as he joined Bakk on the Dailiy Circuit: leave it to the Vikings to make up the shortfall.
It's pie in the sky. They aren't going to produce the numbers that they thought. I have been out visiting some of these places that have the pulltabs. I have been asking them are you going to convert to electronic, and most of them are saying no. They say its a completely different game, its not what their customers want. It's a whole different feel... Maybe some day. I'm not a gambling expert, but in the short term, they are not going to produce the revenue that this calls for. I think the financing for this is going to have to be reevaluated. I think that's problematic... I think the Vikings had better start thinking... about how they're going to come up with the money.