Can we agree there is a concept whose time is past if it ever was: dedicated funding, linking specific taxes to fund specific activities? Here we are again raising taxes in a special way to fund a new Vikings stadium. And a Target Center remodel. Probably still more money for the Minneapolis Convention Center. Maybe freshen up Xcel Center. Possibly even a new Saints stadium.
But ultimately there is only one checkbook. If one "dedicated" fund dries up, another fund is tapped, or more typically, the General Fund which is increasingly less general every session. In the case of the Vikings stadium, the redirection precedes the new spending, diverting "dedicated" hospitality taxes from the Convention Center to the Vikings, via the Legislature to avoid (so far) the local referendum requirement of the Minneapolis City Charter.
Then we have outright slush funds like that of the Legacy Amendment. Even the gas taxes supposedly for roads and bridges is raided for showy public transit projects and bike paths. It's time to end the charade. When politicians - of either party - wants to spend a perceived surplus in an unrelated fund on their pet projects, the way is always found. Watch MInneapolis Mayor RT Rybak on Almanac this week as he dallies and he gathers and he plucks and he shines, all but lying characterizing his solution as a net tax decrease.
Maybe we need a Constitutional Amendment here. All revenue goes into the General Fund. Period. In effect that will be the result of the Vikings bill. When the gambling money comes up short as it so obviously must, the General Fund (us!) will again be saddled with the deficit. With "structural" deficits looming in the out years, in effect the whole bill is coming out of the future General Fund, as it should in the first place, in the light of day.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Speed Gibson.