Legacy finance bill passes out of first committee

The Senate Environment Policy and Legacy Finance Committee heard and passed this year’s Legacy Committee funding bill, which appropriates funding from the four ‘legacy’ funds established by the Legacy Constitutional Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008. The legislation appropriates a total of $645.62 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, and Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, providing financial support for hundreds of projects around the state – from prairie and forest habitat maintenance and restoration to projects that support clean water, parks and trails, zoos and museums, arts and culture, and more.

Included in the bill are all of the recommendations from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and some but not all of the recommendations from the Clean Water Council. The bill also maintains a spending ratio of 40:40:20 for parks and trails, which distributes spending from the Parks and Trails Fund at 40% to the DNR for state parks and trails, 40% to the Metropolitan Council for metro parks and trails, and 20% to Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails; additionally, 47% of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund appropriation will be going to the Minnesota State Arts Board for grants and programs, and $4 million will be allocated to the Humanities Center for a Community Identity and Heritage Grant program.

While DFLers would have liked to see more recommendations included from the Clean Water Council, the bill represents a bipartisan effort of funding projects across the entire state. It passed out of committee unanimously and will be heard next in the Finance Committee. (SF 971)