MINNEAPOLIS – Three years ago, Minnesotans passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to dedicate increased funding to arts and outdoors projects around the state. While the program has been seen largely as a success, a new study, commissioned by Conservation Minnesota, has found that there are some fairly clear examples of state lawmakers utilizing funds from the account to backfill cuts to traditional budget items.
“The Legacy Amendment spells out that the newly dedicated funds must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota. “While our analysis does not seek to answer the legal definition of substitution, common sense tells us that Minnesotans who voted to tax themselves expect to see more money spent in these important areas.”
A few examples of backfilling:
The Clean Water Partnership program, which has been funded by the general fund since 1986, has seen it’s budget cut by 81%, and now, 70% of the funding for this program comes from Legacy Amendment funds.
Funding for parks was cut at a rate (17%) disproportionate to other budgetary items, and Legacy dollars are now used as backfill to keep the parks funding close to previous levels.
A program dedicated to cleaning up leaking septic tanks saw its general fund appropriations eliminated entirely, and replaced by a combination of shifts from other budgets and Legacy dollars.
The full report is available at: http://www.conservationminnesota.org/if-it-looks-like-a-duck/