Attached you will find an article on stadium funding that was published in the Star Tribune this past Wednesday (Dec. 12).
In the article the current administration recommends moving the annual $20 million in corporate money from the stadium fund back to the general fund. Doing that would leave only our money ($38 million in FY2018) to cover the annual stadium bond payment ($31 million), which would cover the stadium bond payment, but effectively negate our chance for real tax relief.
Our proposal for dealing with the stadium bonds is to put our first $35 million into the stadium fund, leave the $20 million from corporate and provide tax relief to charities by reducing the combined receipt brackets by 10% a year as long as we maintain the $35 million for the bonds. That would ensure that the bonds are paid for, leave money for future repairs/remodeling, provide the potential for early payment of the bonds and provide us relief.
Fortunately there is a new day coming in a few weeks. Time will tell what the new administration and democratic house leadership have to say about the issue. We are getting indications from the senate that relief for us will be in their 2019 legislative agenda. We are hopeful that the governor-elect, the house and the senate will be willing to listen to win/win strategies that benefit all parties.
The past two weeks I have been preparing recaps of FY2018 licensed charitable organization gaming results for each state senate district. I am always humbled and in awe when I see what is going on in over 1100 licensed gaming charities in every corner of our state.
We are a diverse group of lay people helping those in need in our community. We don’t do it for glory or personal gain as our opponents like to claim. We do it for the right reasons, all designed to make the state a better place to live. As I have previously said, if everyone in the state belonged to organizations like ours the state would be better off.
As has been pointed out to me by state officials on several occasions, we are not the only folks doing good deeds in Minnesota. But, when looked at as a group there is nobody else that even comes close to making the impact that we do on a statewide basis. I am not saying that as a boast, I am saying that as fact and a point of immense pride.
One would think that non government aid would be encouraged by state government, but that is not the case for us. There is very little recognition by state government of the good works that we do and the contribution that we make to the state coffers. We are accused by state legislators of being self serving and of taking advantage of our patrons. There is no apparent quenching of state government’s thirst for the results of our combined efforts. $40 million in FY2013 did not quench their thirst; $80 million in FY2018 is not doing it either.
I received a call from an organization this week that is well below the state average in the percentage of their net receipts that goes to expenses that paid 59% of what remained to the state in taxes and fees FY2018. In November they lost money at three of their six sites. They (and I as well) cannot understand why the state would put such a burden on organizations like theirs that are only trying to do good for others.
When you think about how we are treated by the state it is hard for me to comprehend. I believe that gambling is an activity that should be taxed. But, I do not believe that groups whose sole existence is to help others need pay the state more than we have for our community and missions.
There was a day when such taxation would have never been considered yet allowed by our elected officials. I believe it was Ann Landers who said “no one can take advantage of you without your permission”. The state is taking advantage of us. As a group we need to decide if we are going to continue to let that happen.
While I am disappointed in how the state treats us, I am disappointed in us as well. Getting the state to stop their current treatment of us will take effort on our part. ACM alone cannot make this happen. I hear from charities that ask why they need to get involved as they thought that is why they paid ACM membership dues.
It is a problem when I talk to a legislator who tells me that no person from their district has ever talked to them about our tax issue. Legislators don’t address issues like ours that their constituents don’t care enough to talk to them about.
ACM is one voice in a choir of thousands at the legislature, all looking for something from them. Our difference is that we are looking for justice not help. A non-profit paying on average five times (and up to seven times) in taxes what a business pays is wrong. We are not asking what government can do for us; we are saying that we want to be part of the solution to the funding of state government, but asking to be taxed and treated fairly in return. I for one do not think that is asking too much. Do you?
Find out who represents you at https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/