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Editorial: Stadiums are not on Legacy Fund's list

Symphonies came up. Museums were talked about, too. So were community theaters and arts education, along with the campaign's core issues of clean water and clean air.

But to the best of our knowledge, not one proponent of Minnesota's Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment called for spending the money on a Vikings stadium.

Not one.

Minnesotans increased the state sales tax in 2008 to pay for conservation and traditional arts programs, not a billion-dollar sports stadium.

So, for House and Senate Republicans to contemplate using the Legacy money to build a stadium now is the worst kind of bait-and-switch.

"A Republican leader says some of his colleagues in the Minnesota Legislature are considering a plan that would rely on a portion of the state's Legacy funds to pay for a new Vikings stadium," Minnesota Public Radio reported.

"There isn't an organized effort by legislative leaders to tap the Legacy funds yet, (state Rep. Kurt) Daudt said. But there is increasing talk among members and GOP staff that this may be the only way that the Republican-controlled House and Senate pass a Vikings stadium bill."

Well, if it is in fact the "only" way, then that is to the legislative Republicans' great discredit. Because all they would be doing is taking advantage of the Legacy supporters' political courage, rather showing any sign of that virtue themselves.

After all, there are lots of straightforward ways to raise money for a Vikings stadium. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman thought of one: "Two cents a drink" - a 2-cent fee tacked on to alcoholic drinks sold in Minnesota's bars.

The fee would raise about $50 million a year, the same amount the lawmakers are talking about taking from the Legacy Fund.

But one approach is honest while the other is a borderline scam.

Don't believe it? Just listen to the way some lawmakers are twisting language to get their way.

"You certainly can't argue that the Minnesota Vikings and these sports teams in the state of Minnesota aren't a part of the state's heritage and certainly part of the state's legacy," said Daudt, R-Crown, referring to the Legacy amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

But as Daudt well knows, those terms in the law weren't meant to refer to sports teams or stadiums at all. Unless, of course, Minnesota's is now a "living constitution," one whose text takes on new meanings over time.

But aren't Republicans the ones who have vowed to support a constitution's original intent? Suppose the Vikings announced they'd prefer an outdoor stadium. Would the Legacy Fund's "outdoors" money also be up for grabs?

As recently as Monday, the mayor of Minneapolis proposed a sales tax increase to pay his city's share for a new stadium. That's the kind of straight talk Minnesotans are used to, and it's the kind the state's Republican leadership should deliver as well.