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Looking for fund transparency

Published (3/4/2010)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Some fees collected for specific purposes land in the state’s General Fund before being appropriated for their dedicated uses.

Sponsored by Rep. Loren Solberg (DFL-Grand Rapids), HF2037 would change the deposit of some fees that now go to the General Fund to an account in the special revenue fund or another specified fund before the money is disbursed from Minnesota Management & Budget to its intended target.

This is a better accounting practice and would provide greater transparency, Solberg told the House Finance Committee March 1. “Right now, these appropriations are hidden in the General Fund.”

Some examples are:

• gifts and grants to the Board of Water and Soil Resources;

• federal reimbursements for Camp Ripley maintenance;

• fees received by the Department of Natural Resources for underground storage; and

• net proceeds of the sale of surplus property by state agencies.

Being able to adequately track the funds has merit, said Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake). She wanted to know the Legislature’s ability to tap into the special funds to help balance the budget.

“The Legislature, the governor can always propose to take money out of the special revenue funds and put it into the General Fund,” Solberg said, citing the governor’s supplemental budget plan that includes transferring $20 million from special revenue funds to the General Fund.

The bill was approved as amended and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, which Solberg chairs. A companion, SF1556, sponsored by Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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