‘Inside Baseball’: Hartford Dem. v. Hartford Dem in Debate Over Stadium Tax Funding

Proposed legislation to direct state tax money to the Hartford baseball stadium project may pit Democrat against Democrat in the state Senate. The idea is to earmark some of the tax money fans would pay for tickets to Hartford Yard Goats games back to the stadium project. The new stadium is being built in Hartford to host the AA team that is currently playing as the Rock Cats in New Britain.

Just how the bill plays out could pit the two Democratic Senators from Hartford against each other. Sen. John Fonfara, who is sponsoring the bill, is staunchly pro-stadium. Sen. Eric Coleman has been a vocal critic of project and campaigned on an anti-stadium position in the last election. He had a particular problem with any public financing. This bill would transfer money from the state general fund for stadium debt. Coleman did not get the party endorsement but won the primary and the general election.

Multiple efforts to reach Coleman Monday were unsuccessful.

yard-goat

The issue came to light when Senate Republican Majority Leader Len Fasano implored Gov. Dannel Malloy to hold to his pledge to not let any tax money go to the stadium development. “[W]e see that promise fading. While the governor vowed to protect taxpayers, legislation before the General Assembly would pave a path for tax dollars to make their way into stadium coffers,” Fasano said.

“It’s unacceptable at a time when he is proposing draconian cuts to social services and core government functions. How can anyone sit back and cut funding for mental health care and the disabled while handing taxpayer dollars to a ballpark? It’s just not right. And it’s something the governor vowed he wouldn’t do,” Fasano said.

The Shad asked Fasano whether he expected Malloy to veto the bill if it passed. “I think the governor has checked out, gone, he doesn’t really care.”’

So what will happen? Will Coleman flip and support the tax money-to-stadium plan? Will the Democrats back off and drop the bill to avoid Malloy in an awkward spot?

Malloy spokesman Mark Bergman tells The Hanging Shad Malloy will wait to comment on the bill. “The governor will weigh in when he sees just what the bill looks like,” he said.

Stay tuned.