SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation that invests $630 million of Legacy Amendment funds. The legislation funds the outdoors and the arts across Minnesota and passed with bipartisan support on a 103-23 vote.
“Minnesotans care about our state and cherish the things that make it such a special place to live,” said Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL – North St. Paul), Chair of the House Legacy Finance Division. “The Legacy Amendment has supported thousands of initiatives in communities across the state since it was adopted a decade ago with overwhelming support from voters. This legislation will make Minnesota an even better place to live and preserve and enhance our great outdoors and rich heritage for future generations.”
Minnesotans voted in favor of adopting the Legacy Amendment in 2008. This constitutional amendment increased sales taxes by three-eighths of one percent for 25 years and divided the revenue between four funds. The Outdoor Heritage Fund and Clean Water Fund each receive 33 percent of the revenue. The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and Parks and Trails Fund receive 19.75 percent and 14.25 percent, respectively.
The legislation includes Outdoor Heritage Fund investments of $127.69 million that would protect and enhance 10,020 acres of wetlands, 108,384 acres of prairies, 14,598 acres of forest, and 8,216 acres of aquatic habitat. It also supports efforts to restore habitat for fish, game, and wildlife. This section of the bill is largely identical to recommendations provided by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The $261.26 million of revenue from the Clean Water Fund protects water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and prevents contamination of drinking water sources and groundwater. Provisions to assess water quality statewide, help local governments implement projects, and support innovative research on agricultural practices that conserve water and soil are included in the legislation. The Clean Water Council contributed to these allocations.
Expenditures from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund will preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage and support the arts, arts education, and arts access. A portion of the $139.77 million from this fund is dedicated to the State Arts Board and Regional Arts Councils. Other funding supports children’s museums, libraries, public radio and television, zoos and aquariums, language preservation efforts, county fairs, and other programs that preserve historic resources and diverse cultural traditions.
Resources from the Parks and Trails Fund are dedicated to connecting Minnesotans to the outdoors and creating opportunities for recreation. $101.26 million will go towards maintaining and improving parks and trails in Greater Minnesota and the metro area and supporting state parks, trails, and recreation areas.
This legislation is an example of successful bipartisan compromise. The House and Senate proposals for two of the four Legacy Amendment funds – the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Parks and Trails Fund – were largely identical, and there were similarities between the other two as well. The House plan for the Clean Water Fund invested more in research and management of drinking water sources based on emerging areas of concern. Senate Republicans reduced funding for these priorities in order to provide grants for soil and water conservation district administration but devoted a higher level of funding to them than in their original proposal. In the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund area, House DFLers successfully fought for new funding for initiatives that celebrate indigenous communities and immigrant communities.