JEFFERSON CITY—State Senator Ryan Silvey, R- Kansas City, released the following letter:
September 1, 2015
The Honorable Jeremiah W. “Jay” Nixon
Governor of the State of Missouri
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Re: Bonding for a new sports stadium in St. Louis
Dear Governor Nixon:
I am deeply troubled by your administration’s continued unilateral effort to move forward on plans to build a new stadium in St. Louis without the approval of the Legislature or the public. When this issue arose in a Senate Appropriations hearing earlier in the year, I felt the steps that were being taken were completely misguided without a vote of the legislature, the citizens of Missouri or even local St. Louis Metro Area residents. I also felt it was important to follow my own due diligence as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and look into the issue further.
Commissioner Nelson’s testimony prompted me to request an opinion from the Attorney General’s office regarding the statute your administration referenced as providing the authority to proceed. The subsequent opinion I received was informative in that it revealed a finding that the General Assembly does not have an obligation to assist with payments on the proposed bonds. Rather, the state has chosen to pay the debt service on these bonds as an act of support for the St. Louis region, not out of a legal requirement.
The fact that you are proceeding to make promises of state funding, all the while knowing we are under no obligation to fulfill that debt, is dangerous and irresponsible. Furthermore, you are taking these steps without receiving public support and have even gone out of your way to limit public input. This is why I staged a holdout during the budget conference committee process this year and refused to sign the agreed upon report for House Bill 5.
Since the session has ended, more and more of my colleagues in the General Assembly have become acutely aware of your actions and decided to stand firm in opposition to your plan. In fact, that number now stands at nearly one-third of the State Senate as well as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee. Given the opposition from both chambers of the Legislature, it is unconscionable that you would proceed further without even attempting to build the necessary support. Additionally, Commissioner Nelson’s recent testimony that potential bond underwriters may not even be informed of the legislative opposition to assisting with the payments is negligent at best and deceptive at worst.
Finally, I would like to remind you that in 2005, we went through a similar debate regarding state funding for stadiums in Kansas City. At the time, new funding was opposed by the Legislature, myself included. However, voters in the Kansas City area were presented with a plan and given the choice to raise their own taxes to renovate the Truman Sports Complex. By making the case directly to the local voters, this proposal passed.
Contrary to what some are trying to argue, I do not believe this is a St. Louis versus Kansas City issue. It is about presenting a fiscally responsible plan that gains the public’s support. To that end, I stand with my colleagues and will work to block any appropriation for the repayment of bonds that have not been approved by the General Assembly or the voters at large. I will also be offering a Senate Joint Resolution that takes this question directly to the people of Missouri to let them decide if building a new stadium in St. Louis is the most appropriate use of their tax dollars.