Where to get $300 million a year for roads and bridges
A bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives that asks voters to repeal the so-called Legacy Amendment to the state constitution that dedicates sales tax revenue to the arts and outdoors, and instead spend the money on roads, bridges and clean water.
The 3/8 of 1% sales tax imposed by the Legacy Amendment currently generates more than $300 million a year.
The Legacy Amendment, Article XI, Section 15 of the Minnesota constitution, specifically states that the money raised must add to other state funding for the arts and outdoors, not replace it. Legislators may not appropriate the funds elsewhere even when there are greater or more urgent needs, such as a seriously deficient system of roads and bridges.
Since the amendment passed in 2008 it has collected $1.8 billion. Here’s where $348 million in legacy funds was spent in 2015. The money is generally turned over to state agencies to spend, but in the first four years, private, non-profit organizations such as Minnesota Public Radio and Pheasants Forever received more than $165 million.
Along with the legacy money, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources currently spends hundreds of millions each year from the general fund and from other funds dedicated to specific purposes. For example, the Game and Fish Fund collected $106.6 million from licenses, fees and permits in 2015.
The 2014 bonding bill authorized $63 million for the DNR as well as other funds for parks and trails, water and arts projects.
If the Legacy Amendment is repealed, projects that have been funded from these sales tax proceeds, such as $325,000 to the Will Steger Foundation to educate Minnesotans about climate change or $176,000 to expand a Silver Bay greenhouse or $73,000 for a production of Urinetown, would now have to compete with projects such as $15 million to repair a deadly 10-mile stretch of Highway 12.
Did you know? Minnesota has the fifth most road miles of all the states, tens of thousands more miles than Florida, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania—and Wisconsin!
Four score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new conceivednation 3/16