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Clean Water Fund spending

Published (4/10/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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A $118.23 million appropriation bill for Clean Water Fund expenditures in the 2010-2011 biennium was approved by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division April 7, despite one member’s attempt to delete everything in favor of another bill.

HF1973, sponsored by Division Chairwoman Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls), next goes to the House Finance Committee with a requested re-referral to the House Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance Division. The division will determine the final list of recommended projects to fund from the Clean Water Fund’s portion of the three-eighths of 1 percent dedicated sales tax revenues voters approved last November. The bill has no Senate companion.

Although the overall recommended spending matches that in the governor’s proposed budget, there are fundamental shifts within each. That prompted Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Nelson Township) to unsuccessfully offer two amendments, including a delete-all amendment that would have doubled the amount awarded to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for water protection grants to local governments.

“I do believe the desire of the folks who voted for the constitutional amendment was to see as much money hit the ground, so to speak, as possible,” Torkelson said.

Under the approved bill, the Pollution Control Agency would receive $40.2 million, largely to develop and implement total maximum daily load projects and to provide partnership grants.

The bill also allocates $14.7 million to the Department of Natural Resources, the bulk of it for collecting digital elevation data, a provision not in the governor’s budget.

Another difference from the governor’s recommendations is $1.57 million in the bill for the University of Minnesota to undertake a statewide sustainable water study and to support ongoing geological surveys by counties.

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