The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) met in Saint Paul on July 25 to work out the final details for the annual review process to award Environment and Natural Resources Trust Funds.
I am a member of the LCCMR, which reviews the detailed proposals and sends a recommendation to the entire legislature as to which projects should be funded and to what extent. We have 174 proposals to review asking for approximately $164 million in total funding.
The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund was established in 1988 by a constitutional amendment and is funded by proceeds from the Minnesota state lottery system. The LCCMR consists of 17 members: 5 Senators, 5 Representatives, and 7 citizens.
Last year, $73.3 million of trust funds were appropriated by the legislature for environment and natural resource projects. Per the Minnesota Constitution that amount can be up to 5.5 percent of the trust fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, which was June 30, 2022. The Office of Management and Budget will be providing LCCMR the actual amount of trust funds that will be available to award later in July.
It will be a busy summer with meetings in Saint Paul and a lot of time at the computer screen and paging through the massive binders of detailed project proposals. Our first task is to significantly trim those 174 proposals down to a more manageable number. Members will first do that individually, recording their findings electronically. LCCMR staff then will combine all 17 individual inputs into a consolidated package indicating how the projects faired.
History has shown that process will reduce the number of projects that will advance forward by about one-half or more. Surviving proposals will then be invited to provide a formal presentation to the commission during 2 weeks of meetings in August. Based on the presentations and the amount of trust funds that are authorized for appropriation the commission then develops a final recommendation package to be sent to the legislature later this fall.
That amendment that created the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and dedicated funds from state lottery proceeds expires in 2025. The question of how state lottery funds should be spent will likely be on the ballot in the 2024 election for voters to again decide.
Please be safe as we celebrate the 4th of July, our nation’s birthday, and enjoy these great summer days.