Proposed budget cuts to conservation prompt Legacy Amendment concerns

by Tom Elko

Gov. Tim Pawlentys 2010-2011 conservation budget disproportionately cuts environmental funding according to a report from Conservation Minnesota. Analysis finds the governor's proposed budget reduces overall spending by 2.2%, while environmental funding faces a cut ten-times the size.

Steve Morse of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership says the constitution is clear in requiring that money from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by voters last November must be used to supplement existing environmental funding rather than replace it.

Morse said, This is not another pot of money elected officials may raid whenever they face tough choices. Our concern is that Governor Pawlentys disproportionate cuts to great outdoors funds do not appear to follow the clear direction Minnesota voters sent in November by overwhelmingly passing the new Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

The governor and the legislature must fix a $4.5 billion budget deficit by the end of the legislative session on May 19, as required by state law. Conservation groups are vowing to protect the environmental and arts funding that Minnesotans overwhelmingly supported in the last election from bearing the brunt of the budget cuts.

The Minnesota conservation and environmental community is committed to assuring that the intent of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment is upheld and elected officials are held accountable to protecting Minnesotas great outdoors for the long term, Morse promised.

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