A case in favor of the amendment
Your house is in need of repairs. It is 150 years old, 86,939 square miles in size, shelters you and more than 5 million other people and the foundation's crumbling. You can get cracking and begin to fix it or you can just sit around until the ho...
Your house is in need of repairs. It is 150 years old, 86,939 square miles in size, shelters you and more than 5 million other people and the foundation's crumbling. You can get cracking and begin to fix it or you can just sit around until the house falls down.
That is the choice Minnesotans are facing this fall. A crucial vote for the future of Minnesota's outdoors is coming up Nov. 4.
Voters will be asked if the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is worth the cost of raising the state sales tax three-eighths of 1 percent -- just four cents on every $10 purchase, until the year 2034.
A "no" vote, or simply no vote, will lead to a state without a foundation. A "yes" vote means Minnesota will begin to address her many problems beginning in summer 2009.
Even though the amendment has strong bi-partisan support in the Legislature and the backing of hundreds of sportsmen's organizations, the vote on Nov. 4 is expected to be close.
Supporters of the amendment are asking all Minnesotans to give back to the state. The state's 1.5 million sportsmen and women raise $48.8 million a year through stamp and license sales. The dedicated funding amendment would raise more in one year than 25 years of stamp sales have produced.
The amendment would dedicate up to $300 million a year to support four separate funds -- Game, Fish and Wildlife Habitat; Clean Lakes, Rivers and Streams; Parks and Trails and Arts and Arts Youth Access. Eighty-one percent of the money would go into the outdoors -- and it would be dedicated to the four funds -- not the state's general fund.
The Fish, Game and Wildlife Habitat Fund would receive a third of the total funding. It is unique among the four funds in that it would be run by a council of citizens and legislators -- not just legislators -- and a good share of the money would be distributed as matching funds for projects proposed by sportsmen's clubs. The Department of Natural Resources' participation would begin and end with calling the meetings for the council.
Receiving another third of the funding would be the Clean Lakes, Rivers and Streams Fund. This is a big one for one huge reason: the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has determined that 40 percent of Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams are currently polluted. We are talking about the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" here, so that amount of pollution should scare everyone.
The people who plan to vote "no" should be looking at the www.sportsmenvoteyes.org Web site or delving into the pros and cons of the issue. There are only a few weeks left before the vote will be taken so the time is short.
There are many people in Minnesota who might look at a tax increase, any tax increase, in these troubled economic times and vote "no" without flinching. While this would be as satisfying as swatting a bothersome fly it would also be as ineffective in reducing the overall population of flies. The problems are not going to disappear and addressing them will benefit everyone.
Too many decisions in life are made in the here and now. This is an investment in the future, a legacy, to pass on to future generations of Minnesotans. It would be a no-brainer for kids. Their vote would be a resounding "yes."