Missouri senators say they’ll withhold Rams stadium cash; Gov. Nixon: I don’t need their stinking votes

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been doing his best to assert that he’ll move ahead with his $400 million-ish St. Louis Rams stadium subsidy plan with or without anyone’s approval, suing to get out of any requirement for a public referendum, asserting that he can sell bonds without needing to ask the legislature first, and funneling as much money as possible through tax credits that he doesn’t need anyone’s permission for. He’s still going to need the state legislature to pay off any bonds, though, and key state lawmakers now say they’ll simply refuse to do so if he tries to go ahead without letting them vote:

House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Jay Nixon warning that he will block any effort to put money in the state budget for payments on a new stadium unless the Legislature or voters first approve the additional debt…

“Let me state that I am not opposed to a new stadium in the St. Louis region,” Flanigan wrote to Nixon. “However, I am opposed to using state resources, both tax credits and direct appropriations for debt service, for a new stadium before the existing stadium debt is paid for in full.”

Nixon promptly replied with some digits, and they were raised middle ones:

“The fact that — in the interim — four, five or six folks start talking about it out of a legislature with 200 people? They’re certainly entitled to say what they want,” Nixon said on Thursday. “But it is not going to dramatically affect continued progress we’re making in a taxpayer-sensitive way to move forward.”

When those “four, five or six folks” include the chairs of the budget committees that can block your legislation, I might not choose to be quite so flip about it, but hey, I’m not governor of anything.

Now, before anyone starts painting this as a major roadblock, note that the opposition senators (all of whom are Republicans, while Nixon is a Democrat, if you’re scoring at home) didn’t actually say they’d oppose the stadium funding, just that they’d do so unless they get to vote on it first. There’s clearly some opposition to spending public money on a new Rams stadium before the old one is paid off, but if the line in the sand is just “let us vote on it,” then there’s a clear path for Nixon to compromise. Or would be, if he weren’t dead set on belittling the legislators he needs in order to get this thing approved.

Meanwhile, the NFL relocation clock keeps on ticking, though no one has any clue how many minutes are left to go, or even what yard line any of the teams are on. At some point, presumably, the league is going to declare a two-minute warning (sorry, this metaphor just doesn’t want to die), and whether it’s a bluff or not, then we’re going to see things explode all over the place. I’d put the over-under around February 1, but feel free to set up a real betting line if you want to crowdsource this prediction.

11 comments on “Missouri senators say they’ll withhold Rams stadium cash; Gov. Nixon: I don’t need their stinking votes

  1. I’m putting my money on a 4 way cluster-suit. Rams-Raiders-Chargers-NFL suing and counter suing each other for 18 months.

  2. I can’t wait for the day when politicians actually stand up for the tax payers and stand up TO these billionaire (bully) owners. Does the Gov. of Missouri have no shame?

  3. I spoke to my representative the other day, and even though he’s not in these articles coming out against it, he said if it came to a vote he would vote against it, and his feeling was that it wouldn’t have enough votes to pass. This is a Democratic representative.

    I doubt it would pass if it came to a vote, which is probably why Nixon is doing everything in his power to prevent a vote of any kind. As he has pointed out, he had the plan before the last legislative session, he could have easily put it to a vote. Instead he’d rather deal with a lawsuit.

  4. The only raised digits (extended middle fingers) I can see are the ones aimed squarely at the taxpayers of Missouri who would be on the hook once again when this goes through.
    Again and again and again these stories come out about professional sports owners getting politicians to approve paying for taxpayer subsidized stadiums, and it never fails to utterly baffle me why the public isn’t “storming the castle” a la a Frankenstein movie, in their state and municipal governments. Has the public just given up, as in “you can’t fight city hall?” I don’t get it, and it seems it will NEVER end…I would have thought a stadium that is “only” 20 years old would NEVER be discussed as being too old, and needing to be replaced, yet it is happening again and again across the country…its only a matter of time before stadiums 5 years old are deemed too old…

  5. Legislators say no new funds until debt is paid off. Well, there are 6 years left on the Dome debt, and that has to be paid whether or not the stadium is built. So, there is no added or new tax while the Dome debt is being paid off. That would be where the state loses without a team because at the minimum there won’t be any revenue from state income tax from those that work for the team

  6. … unless you believe that everyone that works for the team will simply remain unemployed forever should the Rams leave, the income tax argument is simply untrue.

    Most (or maybe all) of the part time concession and stadium ops workers will either find new jobs (filling presently empty roles) or will remain employed at the stadium – the one negative of a team leaving is that facility operations still has to be covered whether there is a primary tenant or not (though given how little some NFL or MLB teams pay toward operating costs of their facility, the argument can be made that their departure might not be a negative even in this respect).

    In the scenario suggested, the customers who used to spend their entertainment income at the former TW dome will now spend that money elsewhere in St. Louis (with a small portion, no doubt, spending that money out of town or in online casinos…).

    The amount of discretionary spending in large metropolitan areas has far less to do with the types of options available than it does with amount of surplus income available.

    Finally, on the income tax argument… we should all stop and think about what the actual amount of income (or other) tax revenue lost to the city and state would be if a given professional sports team leaves.

    First of all, consider the Mo state income tax rate. Then consider what resident and non-resident athletes in their given professional sport pay as an effective income rate (Hint: A player who plays just half his games in the state does not pay state income tax on his full salary. Typically, visiting team players do not pay tax on 1/16th (in the case of football) of their salary either, but a significantly lower number).

    What is the total tax revenue generated by the Rams (in this case) which would not be replaced should they leave? And does this number exceed the total cost to the taxpayers of their presence or not?

    It’s not as simple a calculation as it might initially seem…

  7. Dean: Good Question. I believe the answer to be an unequivocal “No”.

    Piggy: Why buy when leasing is so much more effective and has no legacy cost?

  8. John my friend, good to hear from you.

    To answer your question, buying pols is a “cash and carry” business and a lease would leave a very unpleasant paper trail. Besides, from what Stan tells me Governor Nixon came cheap.

    Most of them do, to our delight–your average legislator falls all over himself if you tell him he’ll be a guest in a stadium suite once a season. For the bigger fish like Noxon, you let them in your owner’s box once or twice and sometimes you can even tell the bagman to stay home, ha!

  9. The governor is completely out of bounds and feels like he is a King, not a governor, spending whatever he wants without anybody’s approval. What I don’t get is everybody’s comments that Stan is holding up the state for a new stadium, I think he hasn’t even asked for a new stadium and doesn’t want one. He wants to go to LA where his team will no longer be last in attendance, last in value. Even if StL builds a new stadium, why would the attendance go up? Those December games when the team is out of contention are going to be pretty darn cold!

    One more thing: For those who bought PSL’s for the Jones Dome, I would be awfully pissed off to buy some more when I had already paid the required bribe! I would demand a refund of my PSL money paid for the Dome since it didn’t buy too much for too long!