www.mnaction.org Monday, September 01, 2014  

Open our Parks, Protect our Great Outdoors

You can take action on this alert by reading the information below and following the directions at the bottom.

Issue

Take action today

Background

Protecting and enhancing our great outdoors, lakes and rivers is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but a Minnesota value. This passionately held value was clearly demonstrated when 1.6 million Minnesotans voted to support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

We recognize the substantial political and economic challenges faced by the state, but we are confident we can achieve a balanced budget and still make commitment to pass on to future generations a great outdoors more beautiful than when we received it; one with clean lakes, rivers and streams, abundant wildlife, natural areas and accessible parks and trails. We believe this commitment can be met by adhering to these basic principles:

Pass the Legacy Appropriation Bill. We understand the appropriation of money brings challenges both politically and regionally. Nonetheless, when Minnesotans voted to tax themselves to enhance our great outdoors in the midst of a challenging economic crisis, they wanted, and deserve to see, results. One of the priorities of the special session should be the prompt passage of a bill appropriating Legacy funds.

Pass an Environment and Natural Resources Bill that Does Not Substitute. The portion of the Minnesota Constitution authorizing the Legacy Amendment states in part: “money under this section must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute.” Many of the partners who advocated for the Legacy Amendment developed three simple guide posts to test compliance with these provisions:

o Minnesota’s Great Outdoors must maintain its traditional share of the total state general fund budget and not dip below its already small 1% proportion – a 30-year low. Any general fund cuts proposed for environmental and conservation programs must not result in a percentage reduction in these programs that is greater than any percentage reduction in total general fund spending;
o Statutorily dedicated funds already in existence for Minnesota’s Great Outdoors cannot be raided to pay for other budget items; and
o Capital investments for Minnesota’s Great Outdoors must be maintained at a level at least equal to the 10-year average of 22 percent of the total general obligation bonds.

The budget proposals so far have fallen short of these principles, most especially in maintaining the share of the general fund going to the Great Outdoors. All of the proposals would cause this share to drop below the already record low of 1%. We urge legislators to find ways to reestablish appropriate levels of general fund investments in our great outdoors. It has become apparent as we move forward that there is a need to develop clear guidelines for future appropriations that will maintain the intent of the constitutional language requiring supplementing and not substituting traditional sources of funding.

Support New Revenue. One other way to accomplish the goal of maintaining traditional sources of funding without affecting the general fund is to look for reasonable new or increased dedicated sources of revenue. Many Minnesotans have already indicated their support for an increase in the boat license fee to address aquatic invasive species. We stand ready to continue doing our part to enhance Minnesota's commitment to the great outdoors with new sources of dedicated revenue to help solve our small area of the state budget. We urge legislators to support additional revenue sources that will both help protect our great outdoors and bring this budget dispute to a conclusion.

We hope our elected officials can find a meaningful budget solution as soon as possible so Minnesotans can get back to enjoying their state parks and their great outdoors.

More Info

Message To Be Sent To
Your message will be sent to each of the following targets:

Governor
Your State Representative
Your State Senator
Message
A sample message appears below, which you may edit before sending.

Protecting our great outdoors is not a Democratic or Republican issue


Dear Governor,

Protecting and enhancing our great outdoors, lakes and rivers is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but a Minnesota value. This passionately held value was clearly demonstrated when 1.6 million Minnesotans voted to support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

I recognize the substantial political and economic challenges you face, but I am confident you can achieve a balanced budget and still make a commitment to pass on to future generations a great outdoors more beautiful than when we received it; one with clean lakes, rivers and streams, abundant wildlife, natural areas and accessible parks and trails. I believe this commitment can be met by adhering to these basic principles:

Pass the Legacy Appropriation Bill. When Minnesotans voted to tax themselves to enhance our great outdoors in the midst of a challenging economic crisis, they wanted, and deserve to see, results. One of the priorities of the special session should be the prompt passage of a bill appropriating Legacy funds.

Pass an Environment and Natural Resources Bill that Does Not Substitute. The portion of the Minnesota Constitution authorizing the Legacy Amendment states in part: “money under this section must supplement traditional sources of funding for these purposes and may not be used as a substitute.” Many of the partners who advocated for the Legacy Amendment developed three simple guide posts to test compliance with these provisions:

o Minnesota’s Great Outdoors must maintain its traditional share of the total state general fund budget and not dip below its already small 1% proportion – a 30-year low.
o Statutorily dedicated funds already in existence for Minnesota’s Great Outdoors cannot be raided to pay for other budget items; and

The budget proposals so far have fallen short of these principles, most especially in maintaining the share of the general fund going to the Great Outdoors. All of the proposals would cause this share to drop below the already record low of 1%. I urge you to find ways to reestablish appropriate levels of general fund investments in our great outdoors. It has become apparent as we move forward that there is a need to develop clear guidelines for future appropriations that will maintain the intent of the constitutional language requiring supplementing and not substituting traditional sources of funding.

Support New Revenue. One other way to accomplish the goal of maintaining traditional sources of funding without affecting the general fund is to look for reasonable new or increased dedicated sources of revenue. Many Minnesotans have already indicated their support for an increase in the boat license fee to address aquatic invasive species and the fees for hunting and fishing licenses to support those programs.

I urge you to support additional revenue sources that will both help protect our great outdoors and bring this budget dispute to a conclusion.

I strongly urge you to work toward a meaningful solution as soon as possible so Minnesotans can get back to enjoying our state parks and our great outdoors. Thank you for your consideration and leadership in bringing this budget dispute to a prompt conclusion.

Sincerely,

Your name and address here


This Action Alert Campaign is Closed.

Spread the word:
  Email Friends     Twitter     Facebook     LinkedIn     Google+
Action Center | Act Now | Sign Up | My Actions | How To...

Copyright © 2001-2014 Minnesota Environmental Action Network. Privacy Policy
Advocacy system © 2001-2014, thedatabank, inc.