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Spending plan for lottery receipts

Published (5/13/2010)
By Sue Hegarty
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An additional $11,000 of available funds left on the table by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for 2011 projects has been added to a spending bill by a conference committee.

HF2624*/ SF2462 would appropriate $25.62 million in state lottery proceeds that were deposited into the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Projects are vetted through the LCCMR, which then makes recommendations to the Legislature about which environmental projects to fund. The dedicated funds were approved by voters in a 1988 constitutional amendment and are spent for the purpose of “protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.”

After listening to concerns from project proposers, state department heads and considering a letter from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a conference committee shifted some funding allocations and increased the total appropriations for 2011.

Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul) sponsor the bill, which was re-passed by the House 95-36 May 12 and by the Senate 59-7.

All of the LCCMR’s recommended projects would receive funding, plus additional money would be appropriated for several state park improvements. Rep. Tom Rukavina’s (DFL-Virginia) House floor amendment would have shifted land acquisition money over to state park improvements. That set up a major difference between the Senate and House bills. In a May 4 letter to conferees, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he was concerned that the House position to shift from land acquisition to park improvements “undermines current commitments made by the state for the purchase of priority in-holdings within the state park system.”

A conference committee reached an alternative solution to use the unallocated $11,000 plus $247,000 from previous trust fund appropriations that were never spent to create $258,000 for state park improvements. That way, the Department of Natural Resources could still reimburse the Parks and Trails Council for various land acquisitions the council purchased on the DNR’s behalf.

The bill also would provide funding for:

• $1.75 million to acquire and preserve land as Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs);

• $1.47 million for combat aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, such as buckthorn, garlic mustard, emerald ash borer, and round goby; and

• $3.364 million for renewable energy research, development and education projects, including several environmental learning centers.

A combination of projects to train teachers and educate students about the environment would be funded, such as Project Get Outdoors operated by the DNR and Get Outside-Urban Woodland for City Kids outdoor classroom at Como Regional Park in St. Paul.

A proposed $143,000 appropriation to the University of Minnesota for a life cycle analysis of low carbon energy technologies available to implement in Minnesota was vetoed by the governor last year, was revised by the applicant and resubmitted to the LCCMR again this year.

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