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The things you love about Minnesota are on the ballot

Fri, Oct 24th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

On November 4, Minnesotans will have a chance to invest in a better life for future generations by voting for a proposed constitutional amendment to fund Minnesota's water quality, wildlife, cultural heritage and natural areas.

The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is a bill advocating for a slight increase in state sales tax by three-eights of one percent of taxable sales. If approved by voters, this slight increase would raise approximately $291 million per year, beginning to be available in 2010, of which 33% will go to an outdoor heritage fund to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife; 33% will go to a clean water fund to protect and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams to protect groundwater; 19.75 for arts, arts education, arts access and to preserve Minnesota' history and cultural heritage; and 14.25% to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

As an artist living and working in Lanesboro I know what the arts and the Root River Trail have done for my local community and our economy so I am particularly interested in how the arts and culture will benefit. This amendment would also raise $58 million annually for the arts as a whole. Funding to the Minnesota State Arts Board (one of Cornucopia Art Center's grantors) and Regional Arts Councils (like the Minnesota Arts Council which funds projects for the Lanesboro Community Theatre, the Lanesboro Arts Council and a variety of local individual artists, to name a few) now is about $10.2 million/year and would increase to about $30M/year. Arts organizations and activities in the state will benefit from a doubling or tripling of arts funding to help them serve Minnesotans statewide. Currently there is no direct state funding for arts education. Money from this new pool will also potentially fund Minnesota's historical societies.

Passing this amendment would be a resounding statement of how we as Minnesotans value the environment and the arts, which are important pillars of our identity as a state. Over 65% of Minnesotans are devoted outdoor enthusiasts while our arts and cultural programming generates billions of dollars annually for Minnesota's economy.

On the 150th anniversary of our state, Minnesota voters will have an historic opportunity to make a nationally prominent move to preserve our environment and cultural heritage that will bring benefits for the next 25 years.

They will be asked the following question on the ballot:

"Clean Water, Wildlife,

Cultural Heritage and

Natural Areas"

"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 rate beginning July 1, 2009, by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales until the year 2034? Yes ....... No ......."

It's important to point out that if voters do not check "yes" or "no" on the amendment issue the non-vote will be counted as a "no" vote.

For more information on the Minnesota's "Clean Water, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage and Natural Areas" Amendment please visit www.yesformn.org

Liz Bucheit lives in Lanesboro.

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