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Jack Rice - Blog

Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.

 

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The Governor Should Veto the Twins Bill

By a very close vote of 34-32, the Senate passed a $522 million stadium for the Minnesota Twins. It will be paid for mostly with a sales tax increase in Hennepin County that will cost taxpayers some $1.1 billion with interest. And it is an absolute disaster, despite the fact that I love baseball, and the Twins. It is bad policy and should never have been done. And more importantly, Governor Pawlenty should veto the bill.

Governor Pawlenty has frequently highlighted his blue collar roots. He grew up and graduated from South St. Paul High School. I have an affinity for the man for that reason alone. My lovely wife, Marlo, also graduated from South St. Paul High. Yeah, once a Packer, always a Packer I guess. In addition, the Governor and I used to practice law in the same firm a long time ago.



All of this being said, I want the Governor to veto this bill. I want him to remember his blue collar roots and his supposed fiscal conservative position regarding government.

Minnesota cut funding for schools and for healthcare when we were in fiscal crisis only a couple of years ago. The Governor specifically talked about tightening up our belts. And, in fact, many of us in the state sort of shook our heads and agreed. We have to do what is necessary to get our fiscal house in order.

Now, we just increased taxes by $1.1 billion.

Here is my problem. Is this the best way to invest our $1.1 billion?

In addition, state law requires a referendum in order to raise taxes. The Hennepin County board agreed to send this to the state in order to avoid the application of the law. Essentially, they said to the state legislature, you decide.

Now, the state legislature looked at this and all legislators from this county voted against it and everybody else voted it into law. I guess it is easy to require other people to pay taxes that you will benefit from. To make it worse, the referendums continue to exist for our schools who are in desperate need of funds. I am aware of one school who lost four referendums for increases even thought their needs were very real.

To put it simply, we are more concerned about funding a for-profit business in this state than taking care of our public schools. Trust me. It is more Pohlad's Twins than ours. We should be ashamed and the Governor should step up and send this back to the legislature.

I have said publicly that I'm not a big fan of referendums because I believe the legislature should know what is best. Worse, the public is often manipulated by big money marketing and we never get the whole story. The legislature can have the experts in front of them and then decide. And yet, we have made a decision not to do it this way. And will we simply abandon this law? Of course not!

If this deal is that good, we should send it to a referendum. That is the law we said we wanted, and we have it. On the other hand, if the legislature should decide, then they should also make the call on raising all taxes across the state, including schools and get rid of the law requiring all referendums.