Here's an e-mail exchange I've had today and yesterday with my state representative, Jackie Dingfelder:
From: Jack Bogdanski [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 5:06 PM To: REP Dingfelder Subject: From a constituentUPDATE, May 1, 11:25 a.m.: It turns out that the response I received (printed above) was a form letter.
Dear Rep. Dingfelder:
As a resident of your district, I support your struggles to find funding for the state's most pressing needs in these times of great hardship. I support tax increases for priorities like schools, public safety, and social services for the homeless and the physically and mentally ill of our communities. I voted for Measure 28, and I support increases to our ridiculously low vehicle registration fees and other levies. Oregon takes a bad rap for high taxes. With the absence of a sales tax factored in, our taxes are actually relatively low. We should not be selfish when so many are in need.
I also support the governor's efforts to cut the fat out of government. This is no time for frills or risk-taking in state government.
With all of these concerns in mind, I hope you will vote for HB 3606, the baseball stadium financing bill that will soon come before you. The bill does not obligate the state to pay a penny beyond what comes in as income tax revenue from the players' salaries, which would all be new money. It is not as though baseball will take revenues away from other programs. These are revenues that don't exist now, and will never exist without baseball. Plus, the economic boost that baseball would create would pay for all sorts of needs that are current languishing. There would be jobs and resulting income taxes for decades to come. And it's an environmentally clean, family-friendly industry.
I know this is a tough sell among some constituents. We need to take care of schools before we play games, some say. But those who pit baseball against social services are missing the point of the bill. The money that would be used under HB 3606 to pay for the stadium is not money that would ever be available for schools. Without baseball, these funds simply won't exist. On the other hand, the secondary tax revenues that baseball can generate through job creation certainly would be and should be available for schools. While we attend to our problems, let's not turn our backs on the solutions.
We spend $460 million of hard state tax dollars every year for a state economic development department. Let's commit to spending $150 million of found money in a one-shot deal, and do more than that department gets accomplished in a decade.
This is a key moment for our city and state. Baseball franchises do not come up for grabs regularly, and there is now one or more ripe for the taking. Please help us take an important step forward toward bringing this economic prize home to Oregon.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
From: Rep Dingfelder [mailto:Dingfelder.Rep@state.or.us]
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 2:32 PM
Subject: RE: From a constituent
Dear Mr. Bogdanski,
Thank you for your email. Rep. Dingfelder is supportive of bringing major league baseball to Portland, but does not believe that public money should be the funding source. A new baseball stadium in Portland would cost $300 million. The question of the state's ultimate liability for the construction bonds has not yet received a satisfactory answer. Rep. Dingfelder does not support any proposal that carries the slightest risk of increased debt obligation for the taxpayers of Oregon.
I encourage you to attend the next Town Hall on May 10th to meet with Rep. Dingfelder, Rep. March, and Sen. Avel Gordly. The Town Hall will be held on Saturday, May 10th, from 10:00 am-noon, at the YMCA Arts Education Center (6036 SE Foster Road).
If you are unable to attend the event, please feel free to contact our office again with any further concerns you may have.
From: Jack Bogdanski [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 10:09 PM
To: Rep Dingfelder
Subject: RE: From a constituent
Dear Maralea Lutino:
A careful reading of the bill shows that there is no risk of increased debt obligation for the state. The bonds would not be issued by the state, and the state would merely "grant" the income tax revenues from the ballplayers and the team to whatever entity winds up issuing the bonds. No new income tax revenues, no state payments.
The State Treasurer has been intimately involved in the drafting of the bill to make sure that these concerns have been addressed. The state's credit rating would not be adversely affected in the least.
I hope that Rep. Dingfelder will take another look at the bill. It is a no-risk proposition for the state, but failure to pass it will prevent the creation of thousands of jobs. Without some public funding -- and this is as much a "user fee" as it is a tax -- major league baseball will not come here.
I hope that you will put a copy of my e-mail messages in the representative's bill file. Thank you.