Gingrich Goes to Bat for Cities in Stadium Finance Battle
Shafroth, Frank, Nation's Cities Weekly
In the first potential break on the stadium and recreational front for cities, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) indicated he would kill the retroactive legislation proposed by Sen. Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
Absent a clarification by Moynihan about both the effective date of his proposal or his intention, the only way cities can proceed without imposing a harsh financial penalty on their taxpayers and citizens would be for Congressional leaders to make a joint statement making clear they will not permit Congress to impose retroactive tax increases on communities that preempt local choices and priorities.
Gingrich made his statement, according to Associated Press reports, in Nashville, Tenn., the same week that NLC's Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution strongly urging the President and Congress to take action to clarify that the bill will not be permitted to be considered with a retroactive date, and opposing efforts to preempt municipal authority to provide municipal financing for school and community sports and recreational facilities.
According to the AP report, Gingrich vowed to kill any legislation which could block the move of the Houston Oilers NFL football team to Nashville, specifically referring to the Moynihan bill, as well as a bill proposed by Rep. Martin Hoke (R-Ohio).
The NLC Board also strongly urged the President and Congress to act on legislation to prevent the use of retroactive municipal bond legislation to interfere with or preempt local priorities, or to impose unfunded costs on local taxpayers across the nation. in May, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee reported out legislation, S 94, authored by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) and Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.) specifically designed to make retroactive tax increases more difficult.
The Gingrich statement, however, came as the first copycat bill interfering retroactively with municipal financing was submitted. The bill, The Taxpayer Fairness Act of 1996, proposed by Reps. Gerald Kleczka (D-Wisc.) and James Sensenbrenner (R-Wise.), would bar the use of municipal tax-exempt financing - retroactive to June 30, 1996 - for any non-profit hospital financing if any part of the bonds were to be used, directly or indirectly, to provide any recreational facility.
Like the Moynihan bin, the Kleczka bill immediately imposed a bar over a portion of the municipal bond market potentially affecting hundreds of hospitals in cities across the country. Just as with the Moynihan bill, Kleczka offered no evidence of abuse by cities. He provided no justification for one member of Congress to preempt the existing federal law and assert his prejudices over those of the citizens and taxpayers of any city. …