Letter: Time is now for racino legislationAfter watching the PBS Your Legislators” show Thursday night, I want to know how can Jim Vickerman say no to one-quarter billion dollars in new voluntary tax revenue over the next biennium?
By: Randy Weidner, Northfield, Worthington Daily Globe
After watching the PBS Your Legislators” show Thursday night, I want to know how can Jim Vickerman say no to one-quarter billion dollars in new voluntary tax revenue over the next biennium? If you say no to racinos, you are saying no to recurrent revenue when our state needs it most.
Please don’t ignore the positive benefits of racino legislation, which could generate hundreds of millions in new voluntary tax revenue for Minnesota. Minnesota’s billion-dollar green agricultural and horse industries will thrive from the improvement of racing. The proposal would allow the same casino-style video games that you see at existing casinos to be placed at the two horse racing tracks in our state. The two tracks are highly regulated (and smoke-free) gaming businesses that wouldn’t constitute an expansion of gambling.
As I would like our leaders to share where they stand on racinos, I am very disappointed in Jim Vickerman’s public opposition to such a common-sense plan. It is an outrage for a fellow farmer to oppose an ag-friendly plan that will help the ag community statewide and can help keep our social programs alive. The governor cut essential services last year, and we are looking at more reductions of services and tax increases this year.
Mr. Vickerman says “There’s enough gambling here” — the largest single collection of slot machines in the nation sits just south of Shakopee. It is part of a multi-billion dollar Minnesota industry that does not pay gaming taxes to the state. It’s the only such agreement in the nation. Senator Vickerman also stated that “a lot of farm families work there (existing casinos) as cooks and waiters.” He understandably wants to look out for his cooks and waiters. He need not worry — cooks and waiters will still be working at the tribal casinos, even with the state’s two legitimate regulated gaming facilities having the same games.
Racinos in 11 other states are contributing over $2.2 billion annually in tax revenue that have been allocated to education, local governments and health care and services in those states.
I see jobs on the front of the paper, with the governor pledging that jobs are what the state needs. How about letting taxpaying businesses compete with an untaxed industry and seeing an agricultural industry grow statewide jobs?
As a constituent, I have visited with my state representative and senator about this. They both believe it is a solid, common-sense plan that unfortunately has a partisan road block — including millions of dollars in campaign contributions — as the only thing holding it back. As a fan of horse racing, I wish to see it thrive in Minnesota.
Please voice your support of this is sensible and lucrative racino proposal that will help the whole state.