Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

MN Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to be on Tuesday’s ballot

With all the advertisements on television, it’s hard not to see a commercial urging voters on election day (Tuesday) to vote “yes” for what is called the Minnesota Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.

The amendment will change the Minnesota Constitution to increase the sales tax on purchases in Minnesota, with the funds designated to four seperate funds: an outdoor heritage fund, a clean water fund, a parks and trails fund, and an arts and cultural heritage fund.

According to Charlie Poster, communications director for Vote Yes Minnesota campaign, the amendment would increase the taxes on a $10 purchase by less than 4 cents which means it is estimated the average Minnesota family of four will pay less than $5 a month extra in sales tax.

Opponents of the proposal are against the idea of dictating a tax increase via the constitution, predicting that other worthy causes will follow the same route.

If passed, the increased sales tax designated for this amendment’s purposes is projected to bring in $240 million a year.

The money from the additional sales tax will go toward the following, as stated in article XI of the Minnesota Constitution: The outdoor heritage fund (33 percent) will go toward restoring, protecting, and enhancing wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife; the clean water fund (33 percent) will be spent to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and to protect groundwater from degradation, and at least 5 percent of the clean water fund must be spent only to protect drinking water sources; the parks and trails fund (14.25 percent) and may be spent only to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance; and the arts and cultural heritage fund (19.75 percent) may be spent only for arts, education, and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.

This is a 25-year commitment and if passed, will take effect July 1, 2009 and end June, 30 2034.

The ballot will read: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate funding to protect our drinking water sources; to protect, enhance, and restore our wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve our arts and cultural heritage; to support our parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore our lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater by increasing the sales and use tax beginning July 1, 2009, by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales until the year 2034?

If left blank, the ballot will be counted as a “no” vote.