ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota House on Thursday approved a plan to build three new Veterans homes, but it’s running into opposition.

Democratic Governor Mark Dayton says Republicans are stealing the money from a special fund that pays for the new home of the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

There’s general agreement Minnesota needs more nursing space for aging veterans. But some lawmakers want to use what they call the excess of the excess funds from the Vikings stadium to do it.

“If you were to consider this like we baked a cake. We frosted the cake. This is now the frosting that you have left over that you are going to throw away in the trash,” Rep. Sarah Anderson, chair of the State Government Finance Committee, said.

The excess funds are piling up from unexpectedly high revenues coming from suddenly popular electronic pull tabs. The money goes into a fund that pays for the $1.1 billion stadium.

“It just, no. It’s just not gonna happen,” Dayton said.

Dayton is against it — not the Veterans homes, just using stadium funds to do it. Remembering how Republicans mocked him when electronic pull tabs at first fell flat.

“Glad to share with you all the news articles of all of the criticism that e-pull tabs endured at the beginning. And now that it’s doing so well, they want to steal the money,” Dayton said.

Minnesota has five Veterans homes now: Minneapolis, Hastings, Luverne, Fergus Falls and Silver Bay. The GOP plan builds three more: in Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji.

Despite the Governor’s opposition, Republicans are pressing ahead.

“These are veterans. These are people who traveled miles to go serve and defend our freedom. And now we’re going to say we’re not going to take care of them at the end of life?” Anderson said.

The Minnesota House is expected to vote very soon on the Vikings and Veterans Home Bill. It has more than enough votes to pass.

Why are pull tabs suddenly so popular? We remember when they were supposed to pay for the stadium, but they weren’t generating any money.

Then, people got more familiar with electronic pull tabs and now people are playing them everywhere. They’re bringing in millions of dollars. It was supposed to bring in $32 million per year, it’s now bringing in $50 million.

Pat Kessler

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