As the Legislature moved toward a late night final adjournment, the Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly passed a proposal Monday to spend nearly $450 million over the next two years in Legacy amendment money.
The vote was 54 to 11, with the proposal expected to be voted on by the House later in the day.
In one noteworthy development, none of the Legacy money designated to go to state agencies could be spent until the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, a DFLer, resolved the state's $5.1 billion overall budget deficit.
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandra, the chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee, said the measure was a “pretty good bill” and said legislators had resisted the urge to use the money to “plug holes” in the state’s budget. Throughout the five-month legislative session, some legislators had argued that Legacy funds were being increasingly used as replacement money as state agencies struggled with budget cuts.
Monday's passage came as Republican legislators and the governor remained at an impasse over how to solve the state's budget deficit.
Though the measure easily passed the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, was among those who voted against the proposal. “It’s $450 million that’s [being spent] before we have a budget,” he said. “It just seems like an odd priority to [pass] it before the budget.”
The Legacy constitutional amendment was passed by voters in 2008 and, over the next quarter century, uses a state sales tax increase to fund projects for the outdoors, clean water, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage.
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