ST. PAUL – A bill Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, authored to distribute nearly $540 million in funding for clean water, arts/cultural heritage, outdoor heritage, and parks and trails passed the House 97-31 Thursday.
The funding represents numerous provisions in an omnibus bill shaped by the House Legacy Funding Finance Committee, which Urdahl chairs. The overall distributions for 2016-17 include:
Clean Water Fund – $226.2 million
Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund – $124.2 million
Outdoor Heritage Fund – $99.9 million
Parks and Trails Fund – $89.4 million
2016-17 total – $539.8 million
Notable provisions in the bill (H.F. 303) include $52 million for surface and groundwater assessments and watershed restoration and protection, along with $32 million for preservation and enhanced access to Minnesota's cultural and historical resources. Legislation in the bill also prohibits Legacy recipients from receiving future funds if they have failed to comply with laws, rules or regulations.
"One thing I emphasized this year is that people should not develop an entitlement mentality regarding Legacy dollars," Urdahl said. "As opposed to other state budget categories, there is no baseline funding that carries into the future. There was no guarantee dollars provided two years ago will be re-upped this time and there is no guarantee appropriations in this year's bill will be repeated in the future."
The revenue Urdahl's committee appropriates is generated by a constitutional amendment citizens approved in 2008, raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent to support the aforementioned areas. The committee received nearly $28 million more in requests than was available.
"There are very difficult decisions to make in weighing requests for appropriations," Urdahl said. "We engaged in a deliberate, transparent committee process and strive to be fair and be responsible stewards of these tax dollars."
Detailed information regarding Legacy appropriations dating back to the amendment's inception is available at www.legacy.leg.mn.
Sen. Dick Cohen, D-St. Paul, has authored the companion Legacy bill.