Responding to Paul Kohls

Rep. Paul Kohls responded in last week’s Chaska Herald to the two letters to the editor I submitted regarding his proposal to sell the Metrodome for $1 and the Spending Accountability Amendment.  Unfortunately, Rep. Kohls chose to use his response to gloss over the core criticisms I leveled against his proposals and was shall-we-say “creative” in his interpretations of what I in fact said.

Metrodome:  Kohls claims that his proposal to sell the Metrodome for $1 is a “serious” one.  Well, sure it is.  If the Vikings were interested in such a deal, we should certainly take them up on it.  But we know that’s never going to happen.  No one in the leadership of either party in the State Legislature have embraced the bill.  Governor Pawlenty doesn’t support it.  And the Vikings aren’t interested.  So what’s the point?  It’s a proposal that was dead on arrival.  

The reality of the situation is that if you’re not willing to spend public money on a stadium for the Vikings they are going to leave.  That’s a perfectly defensible position, especially given the budget mess we find ourselves in.  But if that’s your position, then come out and say it instead of proposing bills that have zero chance of being enacted.  This proposal is an attempt to have it both ways.   If Paul Kohls want to be “serious” about a Vikings stadium then he needs to make a hard decision instead of being a publicity hound:  either give a firm “No” to the team or put some real work into finding a solution for a rational level of public participation in building a new facility. 

Spending Accountability Amendment:  Kohls insinuates that I favor tax increases instead of spending restraint.   Nothing could be further from the truth.  My letter in fact called for spending restraint — noting that all areas of the budget (including K-12 education) were likely going to have to be cut in the next biennium.  My issue with the Amendment is that it ties the hands of the Legislature.  Instead of having future spending decisions tied to the revenues of two years ago, legislators should have all options at their disposal to deal with budget problems. 

That’s what we pay them for, after all — to make hard decisions.  Rep. Kohls, apparently doesn’t feel that the Legislature can be trusted with that responsibility.  If that’s the case, then perhaps Kohls should step aside, as we need a better class of legislator who is up to the challenges of the day and interested in real-world solutions instead of soundbites.

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