Senate Republicans ignore environmental priorities

The Senate Environment Finance Committee had planned to finally discuss Governor Walz’s proposal this week to dedicate a portion of the $9 billion surplus to historic improvements in Minnesota’s parks, trails, clean water initiatives, and climate resiliency efforts. But instead of allowing the public to hear and comment on those priorities, the Senate Republicans inserted their own budget package at the last minute and refused to discuss the needs of the Department of Natural Resources, the Pollution Control Agency, or the many other entities impacted by that budget.

The Republican plan would spend just $1.47 million on natural resources, outdoor recreations, and clean water and environmental initiatives – that’s just 0.016% of the total budget surplus. This is a missed opportunity to make once-in-a-generation investments in the resources that make Minnesota the pristine state that it is.

The governor’s proposal, on the other hand, would make once in a generation investments in habitat conservation and restoration, protecting our state’s clean water, ensuring equitable access to state parks, and preparing our communities for climate change.

Among the governor’s proposals:

  • $32 million for enhancing grasslands, wetlands, state park roads and trails, planting native grasses, restoring streams, and culvert enhancements
  • $79 million for grants to our communities for climate resiliency work for our storm and wastewater infrastructure, grants to store water on the land following climate-related rain events, and modernizing our fish hatcheries to withstand climate change
  • $3 million for grants to communities to enhance water conservation efforts
  • $25.6 million to help communities reduce pollution and increase efforts to recycle, including grants to communities for reducing PFAS contamination, grants and loans to increase waste prevention and recycling, technical assistance and grants for community wastewater treatment systems, and grants to small businesses for pollution prevention assistance

As Republicans continue announcing “budget priorities” next week, this budget makes it abundantly clear where their priorities are not – Minnesota’s citizens and businesses who value our natural resources and a clean, climate-resilient future. (SF 4062)

Senate DFL Media