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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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REP. TORKELSON: USE NEW SALES TAX MONEY FOR ENVIRONMENT, NOT BUREAUCRACY

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
ST. PAUL – State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-St. James) said he was upset by a recent House DFL proposal that would spend new environment funds in order to expand the size of government. “I’m pretty sure that when voters chose to increase their sales tax last November, they did so with the intention that their money would go towards environmental projects, not to put more government bureaucrats on the state payroll,” Torkelson said. According to Torkelson, the bill was expected to allow the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council to reimburse members for expenses and cover administrative costs. It was not expected to include the hiring of an executive director and staff. The task of the Council – which is made up of lawmakers and citizens - is to review roughly $80 million in outdoor and natural resources projects that will be available thanks to voter approval of a state sales tax increase in November. The annual cost for these added expenditures could be more than $150,000. Torkelson said that according to state law, the Department of Natural Resources shall provide administrative support for the Council, and that hiring a permanent executive director is a waste of taxpayer dollars. “The Clean Water Council has worked with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for two years without needing to hire a staff of its own,” Torkelson said. “It’s just disappointing that instead of discussing the best ways to fund the environment, we’re discussing if we should waste some of it on a new layer of government bureaucracy.”