Arts, outdoors spending plan moves forward in House

Whitetail buck
A whitetail buck.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

A Minnesota House Committee today approved a bill that distributes tens of millions of dollars from a new dedicated sales tax for the outdoors and the arts.

The bill allocates money from four newly created funds for wildlife habitat, clean water, parks and trails, and arts and culture.

Committee chair, Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Duluth, said one of the biggest struggles was to get people with very different interests to understand they are working on a common goal.

She said the bill is the result of weeks of testimony about the potential impact of the money over the next 25 years, especially in the face of an economic downturn.

"One of the most moving learning experiences we had was the night when the four historians talked about the WPA projects in Minnesota, and the effect it had in Minnesota," said Murphy. "And we looked at this money from that point on as a kind of a stimulus for the economy in Minnesota."

Murphy says the bill provides a plan to guide the distribution of the legacy amendment money over the 25-year life of the tax. The funding would become available at the beginning of next year.

The measure now goes to the House Finance Committee. The Minnesota Senate is considering the funding in several bills which are now before the Senate Finance Committee.

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