this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Bill funneling slot proceeds to Saints heads to governor Cash would bolster host of N.O. projects Friday, June 24, 2005 By Ed Anderson Capital bureau BATON ROUGE -- Legislation that would direct future proceeds of slot machine gambling at the ...
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Bill funneling slot proceeds to Saints heads to governor
Bill funneling slot proceeds to Saints heads to governor
Cash would bolster host of N.O. projects
Friday, June 24, 2005
By Ed Anderson
BATON ROUGE -- Legislation that would direct future proceeds of slot machine gambling at the New Orleans Fair Grounds to help the state meet its annual financial obligations to the New Orleans Saints and other city projects cleared the Legislature on Thursday on its way to Gov. Kathleen Blanco's desk.
House Bill 393 by Rep. Peppi Bruneau, R-New Orleans, passed the House 77-24, with six hours left in the 60-day session. Senators followed by approving the bill 32-1, with only Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, voting against it.
Backers of the measure said they could not accurately determine how much money the slots will generate. Bruneau said his bill would take the 18.5 percent tax that would go to the state and use most of it to finance a laundry list of New Orleans projects first. Whatever is left would flow to the Superdome Commission to pay the National Football League's Saints and National Basketball Association's Hornets. "There will be more money left (for the teams) than going to the other projects," Bruneau said.
He estimated the tax revenue could generate $10 million to $12 million a year, making $8 million to $10 million available to help meet the contractual obligations to the Saints and Hornets.
Sen. Ken Hollis, R-Metairie, who recommended that Bruneau's original bill be converted into a Saints payment measure, said the estimates might be $6 million to $8 million a year, starting in 2007 when 500 slots may be in operation at the track.
Bruneau's bill started out as a measure to increase the slot machine take for City Park from $200,000 a year to $2 million a year. But at final passage, the measure had picked up other New Orleans area projects for financing. Those projects were approved by a six-member compromise committee that recommended the Legislature go along.
The bill heading to Blanco has future financing of:
-- Up to $1.3 million for a major renovation of City Park.
-- Up to $350,000 for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, an organization that works to bring major athletic events to the city.
-- Up to $100,000 for economic development projects in Algiers.
-- Up to $100,000 for a New Orleans training program for workers in the hospitality and tourism industries.
-- Up to $100,00 for New Orleans Recreation Department playgrounds.
-- Up to $100,000 for neighborhood beautification projects in New Orleans.
Whatever is left would go to the Superdome Commission to help pay any of the state's obligations to the Saints or Hornets. Bruneau said that could be as much as $8 million a year, more than half of what the state owes the Saints this year.
"This will not kick in until 2007" because the Fair Grounds has not started building the mini-casino for the slots, Bruneau said. Fair Grounds officials said the facility probably won't open for at least a year.
Bruneau said a combination of the slot-machine money as well as the revenue from the hotel-motel tax in Orleans and Jefferson should be enough to pay the state's obligations.
The state last year had to borrow about $7 million from a fund in the economic development department to make up the $15 million payments; Superdome officials have said they will probably issue notes this year to pay the full $15 million. The hotel tax is expected to fall about $9 million short of what is needed to pay the team the state guarantee by July 5.
Under a 10-year, $186.5 million deal, the state makes annual payments to the team that started out at $12.5 million in 2002 and hit $23.5 million in the last two years of the contract.
Rookie Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, said there should be money in the bill for the neighborhoods in his district, especially the neighborhoods in the area of the Fair Grounds that will be affected when the mini-casino opens at the track.
"If this is a food chain (of items), the people in my district are going to starve," LaFonta complained.
LaFonta tried to derail the bill, but the House voted 70-26 to kill the attempt.
. . . . . . .
Ed Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or (225) 342-5810.
How New Orleans area House members voted on House Bill 393 to distribute expected revenue from slot machines at the Fair Grounds to City Park, the Saints and other New Orleans programs:
YES: Alario, D-Westwego; Ansardi, D-Kenner; Arnold, D-Algiers; Bowler, R-Harahan; Bruneau, R-New Orleans; Burns, R-Mandeville; Crowe, R-Slidell; Damico, D-Marrero; Faucheux, D-LaPlace; Heaton, D-New Orleans; Hutter, R-Chalmette; Jefferson-Bullock, D-New Orleans; LaBruzzo, R-Metairie; Lancaster, R-Metairie; Martiny, R-Kenner; Odinet, D-Arabi; Pitre, R-Cut Off; Powell, R-Ponchatoula; Quezaire, D-Donaldsonville; Ritchie, D-Franklinton; Scalise, R-Jefferson; Strain, R-Covington; Toomy, R-Gretna; Tucker, R-Algiers; Winston, R-Covington; Wooton, D-Belle Chasse
NO: Badon, D-New Orleans; Carter, D-New Orleans; Gray, D-New Orleans; LaFonta, D-New Orleans; Marchand, D-New Orleans; Morrell, D-New Orleans; Richmond, D-New Orleans; Smith, D-Norco
ABSENT: Schneider, R-Slidell
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