Thompson, Garofalo have mixed opinions on sessionFarmington’s representatives at the Minnesota capitol were on opposite sides of the highest-profile issue of the recently completed legislative session. Rep. Pat Garofalo voted for the bill that provided state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Sen. Dave Thompson voted against it.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Farmington’s representatives at the Minnesota capitol were on opposite sides of the highest-profile issue of the recently completed legislative session.
Rep. Pat Garofalo voted for the bill that provided state funding for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Sen. Dave Thompson voted against it.
Thompson has been a longtime opponent of state funding for a Vikings stadium.
“I’ve been on record not only as a legislator, but in my former life (as a radio talk show host),” Thompson said. “That’s not the business the government should be in.”
Thompson raised concerns about whether the gambling changes identified as a method to pay for the state’s share of the stadium will be adequate, and pointed out that Vikings ownership is making only a small contribution to the project.
Garofalo, though, takes another view on the project. He has been an active supporter of the stadium bill and introduced an amendment late in the debate on the stadium that would have required the Vikings to pay an additional $105 million and give up a share of the stadium naming rights.
“While I wish the Vikings were contributing more, when you get almost $500 million of private sector investment in development, that’s good,” he said.
Some legislators have complained that the session that wrapped up accomplished little, but Garofalo said he was happy with progress in several areas. The state erased a $6 billion budget deficit and made progress on creating new jobs. And while there is work to do, he is happy with what got done this year.
“We did some good stuff on jobs, but like candy and money you can never have enough,” Garofalo said. “There is no dispute that Minnesota is in a better economic position than it was two years ago.”
Thompson, too, found things to be happy about.
“There were certainly small pieces of economic legislation that I thought were good,” he said. “I am very, very happy about the photo ID Constitutional amendment that will show up on the ballot in November.”
If Garofalo has disappointments related to the session, it is with the things that did not get done. He was a proponent of using some of the state’s surplus this year to pay back money borrowed through a shift in education funding, and he wanted to see action on a bill that would have eliminated a last-in, first-out structure when it comes to firing teachers.
Thompson, meanwhile was disappointed with a few of the things that did get done. In addition to the Vikings bill, he was unhappy with the size of the bonding bill legislators approved last week.
“(The session) wasn’t a total loss,” he said. “Unfortunately, the big things got away from us.”