Place Your Bets: Proposed Aerotropolis May Be Funded In Part With Casino Tax Revenues
We noted in February that we saw some legislative activity in the Missouri House intended to revive, at least in part, 2011’s moribund Aerotropolis legislation, which suffered long before dying in last year’s special session. Since then, there has been no obvious movement regarding the project — until this week.
Two different stories on Aerotropolis are now circulating. The first came out Tuesday and dealt with efforts in the state legislature to once again drive state tax credits to the project. It looks like House leaders may try to tuck Aerotropolis back into an economic development package that the chamber is preparing.
The second story was published this morning and is the more fascinating of the two. It reveals that Saint Louis County may apply $3 million in casino tax revenues to support the Aerotropolis project. If true, the funding source would certainly be apropos, given that Aerotropolis almost certainly is a gamble. Over the last year, Audrey Spalding and I (as well as Chrissy Harbin) have discussed at length the merits (or lack thereof) of Aerotropolis, a project that originally clocked in at a cool $480 million when it was first proposed. That figure is worth keeping in mind as proponents of the Aerotropolis plan pine for state money. Taxpayers have been told that Aerotropolis “needed” a half billion dollars to take flight; then $360 million; and then just $60 million. Maybe Aerotropolis should not receive any money from taxpayers?
This also may be a case of life imitating art, as this Show-Me Institute PSA (narrated by our own Rick Edlund) makes clear.
No doubt, a plethora of interest groups are still actively campaigning to resurrect Aerotropolis, but proponents have still failed to make the case that 1) the Aerotropolis plan will work, and 2) public money is required to resolve some market failure standing in the way of the project’s success. Last year, it looked like private parties just wanted to gamble with the public’s money. “A game changer at $480 million! A bargain at $360 million! Just $60 million will do the trick! How about $3 million?”
It sounds like we have a problem gambler on our hands. Maybe the best thing to do is to simply cut them off.