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For Minnesota Legacy Amendment results, we need extra vigilance

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opinion Brainerd, 56401

Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Minnesota’s watchdog is watching our Legacy Amendment funds. Using the “special responsibility and special tools” of his office, Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles says that he and his staff will remain vigilant in oversight of the funds that protect our outdoors, clean water, parks and trails and arts and culture.


The sales tax increase of three-eighths of 1 percent, voted by Minnesotans deep in the recession in 2008, is projected to have generated $7 billion-plus by the time it expires in 2034.

With 23 years to go, and so many precious taxpayer dollars at stake, it is imperative that Nobles and his staff remain dedicated to oversight and accountability — and that elected officials and the rest of us pay attention.

Recently, Nobles’ office released the most comprehensive report card on the amendment, an early opportunity to set the bar for the standards and measurements needed to be sure voters get what they’re paying for.

In our recent conversation about the Legacy Amendment, Nobles reiterated his ongoing concerns.

First is understanding amendment language that says funds will “supplement, not substitute,” for traditional sources of funding. Nobles said it is unclear what constitutes a “traditional” source of funding. ...

Many Minnesotans voted for the Legacy Amendment because they care about clean water. In Minnesota, “it defines us,” Nobles said. Measuring our clean-water results, however, will be complicated by a number of factors, including administration by overlapping state agencies and jurisdictions.

As Nobles says, it will take a lot of pressure on state government to achieve the desired outcomes.

Faced with tough times and tight budgets, we’re counting on the legislative auditor and his staff to keep the pressure on.

— St. Paul Pioneer Press