Legacy Funds Overview

The Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Committee heard an overview this week of Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment and its funds, presented by the Office of the Legislative Auditor and Minnesota Management and Budget.

In 2008, Minnesota’s voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (Legacy Amendment) to the Minnesota Constitution with the idea of protecting and improving Minnesota’s famous quality of life for present and future generations of Minnesotans.

The Legacy Amendment is financed through an increase in the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent, beginning on July 1, 2009 and continuing until 2034. The additional sales tax revenue is distributed into four funds, as follows: 33 percent to the Clean Water Fund; 33 percent to the Outdoor Heritage Fund; 19.75 percent to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund; and 14.25 percent to the Parks and Trails Fund.

  • Clean Water Fund. These funds may only be spent to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and to protect groundwater from degradation. At least five percent must be spent to protect drinking water sources.  The Clean Water Council helps to oversee these appropriations.
  • Outdoor Heritage Fund. These funds “may be spent to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.” The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommends appropriations and oversees the resulting projects.
  • Parks & Trails Fund. These funds are to be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.  These funds are allocated using a formula that distributes 40% to the DNR for state parks and trails, 40% to the Metropolitan Council for metro area parks and trails, and 20% to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.
  • Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. This fund may be spent to support arts, arts education and arts access, and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.  Much of these funds are distributed through grants by the State Arts Board and the Minnesota Historical Society.

To date, distributions from Legacy funds are as follows:  Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund — $441.9 million; Clean Water Fund — $759.6 million; Outdoor Heritage Fund — $741.6 million; and Parks & Trails Fund — $317.7 million.   Aspects of the Legacy Amendment have been evaluated by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, with feedback to the legislature about issues that may need clarification.

Senate DFL Media