OUR OPINION: Why lawmakers won't tell the Vikings to get lost
Attention, Phil Krinkie: You ask a fair question in your column in today's Herald and on grandforksherald.com. Here's your answer. It's obvious that Minnesotans don't want to sink public funds into a new Vikings stadium, writes Krinkie, president...
Attention, Phil Krinkie: You ask a fair question in your column in today's Herald and on grandforksherald.com.
Here's your answer.
It's obvious that Minnesotans don't want to sink public funds into a new Vikings stadium, writes Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. "So, why do legislators continue to propose spending hundreds of millions of Minnesota taxpayers money to subsidize a New Jersey billionaire?"
Well, the answer is that Minnesotans' views aren't so obvious after all. And for evidence, look no further than the poll Krinkie cites: the Jan. 21 and 22 scientific survey by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C.
In that survey, "59 percent of the respondents opposed any public financing for a new Vikings stadium," Krinkie notes.
In fact, "even under the threat of the team leaving Minnesota, 39 percent of the people responded by saying 'let them leave' vs. using taxpayer funding."
Ah, but there's another number in the poll that Krinkie left out. Maybe that's no surprise, because the number shows exactly why "legislators continue to propose spending hundred of millions of Minnesota taxpayers money."
You see, while Krinkie's right that 39 percent of respondents said "let them leave," 46 percent said "use tax money to keep them here."
This is what the poll asked: "If the choice was between the Vikings moving out of Minnesota and public money covering part of the cost for a new stadium, which would you prefer?"
This is how people answered: Forty-six percent said the public should pay part of the cost, 39 percent said "Adios, Vikings," and 15 percent were not sure.
In other words, a plurality of Minnesotans support using public money if that's what it takes to keep the Vikings in Minnesota.
Moreover, the opposition to public financing is soft: It drops from 59 percent when the Vikes are not threatening to leave to 39 percent when they are.
And to top it off, even that initial opposition is weaker than it used to be, now that decision-time is near and the Vikings are closing in on the end of their Metrodome lease. In November, the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll asked this question: "Would you favor or oppose using public money for a new Vikings football stadium?" As in the Public Policy Polling survey, some 56 percent said "Oppose." That's a big number, but it's less impressive when you learn that it's down from 75 percent in 2010.
Time after time, the Taxpayers League overplays its hand, refusing to accept that some spending it brands as "wasteful" draws Minnesotans' plurality or even majority support. For example, while the Taxpayers League opposed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008, some 56 percent of Minnesotans voted to approve the amendment, even though it meant raising their own taxes.
That's more than voted for any political figure in the election, including President Barack Obama.
On these and other issues, the League would be more effective -- especially among independents -- if it would stop responding to any and all proposals with a knee-jerk and a "No."
In other words, maybe it's Krinkie who should examine a "blind side" -- his own.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald