ST. PAUL - The House committee Rep. Dean Urdahl chairs is in the process of finalizing a bill which appropriates revenue generated by the Legacy Fund statewide sales tax.
Urdahl, R-Acton Township, chairs the Legacy Division, the House panel responsible for dispersing revenue from the three-eighths of 1 percent Legacy tax Minnesota voters approved in 2008.
The committee plans to appropriate nearly $540 million during the next two years, including around $271 million this year. Legacy revenue is divided into four categories and the following appropriations are in this year’s bill: outdoors heritage, $92 million; clean water, $89.9 million; arts and cultural heritage, 50.6 million; parks and trails, $38.6 million.
“The Legacy Fund is a helpful tool for us to support these areas at a time the state is pinched for money,” Urdahl said. “It is important to put this tax money to the best use possible and we have given countless proposals thorough consideration. We will remain diligent and keep the process open as we move the bill through its final stages and into passage.”
Key changes are being developed to provide more transparency and accountability in how Legacy money is used. One new measure would require a report of how funds are being spent to be posted on a website, making it easier for citizens and legislators to track funding. For now, a simple spreadsheet of current proposals is available by going to the Legacy Funding Division home page via www.house.mn.
The House’s bill is now in the process of receiving amendments and public commentary before the final mark-up is prepared in late April. The Senate also is preparing a set of proposals, with Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chairing that respective committee.
Gov. Mark Dayton has issued his own set of Legacy recommendations. One notable difference is in the parks and trails funding. Urdahl’s House bill provides a greater share toward grants which are open for statewide use. Dayton’s proposal puts more revenue toward the DNR and the Metropolitan Council.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s fourth term in the Legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.