What didn't Governor Dayton know, and when didn't he know it?

Electronic pulltab revenues continue to severely underperform projections, and we mean severely. According to the Pioneer Press, original projections showed that "electronic charitable games would generate $35 million in taxes for the stadium project by the end of 2013. That projection was downgraded to $17 million in November and then reduced to $1.7 million last month."

Anemic e-pulltab revenues have been a huge embarrassment to the Dayton Administration but also a threat to taxpayers, because the state’s General Fund could eventually be raided to cover the gambling shortfall.

The Star Tribune revealed this week that e-pulltab revenue projections were largely based on estimates from gambling vendors who stood to profit from the stadium legislation. The Dayton Administration seems to have taken those estimates at face value, and with minimal scrutiny. Why? Well, the governor has offered several explanations and excuses, all of them conflicting.

Excuse #1: Governor Dayton pleaded ignorance, claiming he had no idea that estimates came from gambling vendors and blamed the Gambling Control Board for not disclosing the source. Unfortunately, Minnesota Public Radio revealed that the administration was indeed well aware of industry’s involvement, and had admitted as much in 2011.

Excuse #2: Dayton then claimed he was just too busy to keep up with mundane details like data integrity and taxpayer risk, even though the Vikings stadium was his top priority in the 2012 session: "I don't track every legislative hearing, and there's a tremendous amount going on…If somebody told me something and I don't recall it, that's my responsibility." He reiterated his regret that gambling interests played a major role in estimating e-pulltab revenue.

Excuse #3: Dayton then reversed himself yet again, defending the gambling industry’s involvement, and shifting the blame to legislators, saying, "We’re all responsible for this creation." Except, presumably, the many legislators and fiscal conservatives who not only opposed the stadium proposal, but also warned that revenue projections were unrealistic and indefensible.

It seems the buck never stops with the governor; it just pauses briefly, then gets passed to the nearest convenient scapegoat. That’s leadership, Mark Dayton style.

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