Sales tax hike for environment, arts has broad support

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2008 - 8:15 AM

The Minnesota Poll showed that 59 percent said they planned to vote for the amendment.

Most Minnesotans favor a constitutional amendment authorizing a statewide sales-tax increase to provide more money for the outdoors, the environment and the arts, but 40 percent acknowledge they have heard nothing about the proposal's details, a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows.

The survey of 1,084 likely voters conducted over a three-day period ending Thursday indicated that the amendment -- which calls for a three-eighths of one percent sales-tax increase -- enjoyed widespread support in all age, income and gender groups and was also favored by both metro and outstate voters.

The poll showed that 59 percent said they planned to vote for the amendment, and 32 percent said they would vote no.

But the poll also showed that few Minnesotans have heard an explanation of what the measure would do.

Just 10 percent of those responding said they had seen or heard "a lot" about the amendment, while 49 percent said they had heard "some" or "only a little" about it and 40 percent said they had heard "nothing at all" about the plan.

"I don't know very much about this because there's so much we're trying to keep on top of with the whole political picture right now -- the election picture and the candidates and everything," said Laura Feller, a Winona resident who said she supported the amendment but was unaware it was on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"I'm in an area that is bluff [country], and I would like to see it protected and taken care of and maintained," she said. But the proposal's supporters, Feller added, "have some work to do ... they need to get the word out."

The two sides

Opponents of the amendment said the poll's findings were surprising, and appeared to show a significant shift in favor of the proposal from earlier polling. "When you actually ask a question that has a tax increase in it, I'm surprised that people are saying they would vote for it," said Phil Krinkie, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. "We've got a lot more work to do.

"This is a huge tax increase," he said. "This is terrible public policy to put a ... dedication of resources like this in the [state] Constitution."

Ken Martin, campaign manager for Vote Yes, the group pushing for the amendment's passage, said that the poll reflected the campaign's own polling and that the percentage of voters who had not heard of the amendment's details was dwindling. "We're getting a sense both on the phones and [while knocking on] doors, and clearly in polling like this, that people are very supportive," he said.

"People care about the outdoors, they care about their water in this state, and they're going to do the right thing," said Martin.

Campaign heating up

The poll comes as the Vote Yes campaign, which hopes to raise as much as $5 million to campaign for the amendment, unveiled its first television ads last week and is drawing heavy financial backing from an array of outdoors, environmental and arts enthusiasts.

Opponents of the amendment, which would raise roughly $276 million annually for 25 years, argue that the proposal is another tax increase that Minnesotans cannot afford in an era of high gas prices and a struggling economy. Other critics said the measure attempts to sidestep the Legislature, which traditionally has decided how much state money to give to such causes.

Under the proposal, 33 percent of the money would go to clean water projects, another 33 percent would be distributed to game, fish and wildlife habitat endeavors, 19.75 percent would go to arts and culture projects and 14.25 percent would go toward parks and trails. A series of panels, some of which have yet to be formed, would disperse the money.

The state Department of Revenue estimates the amendment would cost an average Minnesota household $60 a year.

Supporters said they worry about signs that many voters are unaware of the amendment, especially since by law any Minnesotan who votes on Nov. 4 but leaves the amendment question blank will be counted as voting against the proposal.

Seventy-two-year-old Alice Maher, who lives near Clear Lake, said she has been following the proposal and opposes it because of the tax increase. Minnesotans, she said, need to figure out how to take care of the outdoors and the environment without tax increases or more government, she said.

"I feel our taxes in Minnesota, especially, are high enough," said Maher. "I don't think we need to add more taxes. I think we need to get people with innovative ideas."

Joseph Needham, a 21-year-old college student from Thief River Falls, said he knew little about the proposal but said the larger issue is to support the concept behind it. "I like the outdoors," he said. "I like to go camping.

"Even if it costs a little bit more money, you know, on everybody, at least we'll have forests and wildlife and things like that still around," he said.

Mike Kaszuba • 612-673-4388



The Star Tribune Minnesota Poll findings are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 2 with a representative sample of 1,084 likely voters, out of a total sample of 1,205 Minnesota adults, 18 years old and older. Respondents were identified as likely voters based on their voting intentions and self-reported voting history.

Interviews were conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Results of a poll based on 1,084 interviews will vary by no more than 3.7 percentage points, plus or minus, from the overall population 95 times out of 100. Margins are larger for groups within the sample, such as Democrats and Republicans.

The poll does not include interviews with cell phone users.

Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion surveys such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects. In addition, news events, such as the congressional rescue plan for Wall Street, may have affected opinions during the period the poll was taken. Readers can e-mail questions to

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Denver 28 3rd Qtr 0:55
Cincinnati 27
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
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NY Giants
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Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Denver 82 FINAL
Charlotte 110
Portland 95 FINAL
Houston 110
Utah 97 FINAL
Memphis 91
Toronto 120 FINAL
Chicago 129
Atlanta 100 4th Qtr 1:08
Dallas 88
LA Clippers 118 4th Qtr 0:20
San Antonio 122
Sacramento 14 1st Qtr 5:00
Golden State 15
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 5 FINAL
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(SO)
Florida 4
Arizona 0 2nd Prd
Vancouver 3
San Jose 0 2nd Prd
Anaheim 0
Calgary 0 1st Prd 10:27
Los Angeles 1
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 68 FINAL
Colorado 82
Lewis & Clark 49 FINAL
Portland 71
SC State 59 FINAL
Abilene Christian 65
Manhattan 71 FINAL
Fordham 57
Truett-McConnell 57 FINAL
Ga Southern 90
Citadel 56 FINAL
Michigan State 82
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Ohio State 93
Gardner-Webb 89 FINAL
Purdue 84
Idaho 68 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Fairfield 66 FINAL
Albany 77
North Dakota St 61 FINAL
Alcorn State 50
UT Martin 37 FINAL
Butler 64
SE Louisiana 65 FINAL
UCF 70
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Clemson 70
Florida A&M 57 FINAL
East Carolina 75
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 69
IUPU-Ft Wayne 43 FINAL
Illinois State 68
Norfolk State 74 FINAL
James Madison 71
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Mount St Marys 69
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Navy 61
Long Island 73 FINAL
New Hampshire 72
Northern Ill 66 FINAL
Notre Dame 91
William & Mary 62 FINAL
Old Dominion 69
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Princeton 65
Delaware 81 FINAL
Robert Morris 84
MD-Eastern Shore 82 FINAL
St Bonaventure 80
Colgate 43 FINAL
Syracuse 78
Kansas 52 FINAL
Temple 77
Mercer 54 FINAL
Tennessee 64
East Tenn St 60 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 84
Va Military 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Bucknell 53 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Alabama A&M 62 FINAL
Western Mich 71
New Orleans 59 FINAL
Indiana 79
Columbia 65 FINAL
Connecticut 80
Long Beach State 49 FINAL
St Johns 66
Wofford 44 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Southern U 66 FINAL
Baylor 70
Chattanooga 83
Char Southern 54 FINAL
Colorado State 75
North Florida 70 FINAL
Iowa 80
NC Central 67 FINAL
Jackson State 64
Rice 72 FINAL
Lamar 79
Central Mich 89 FINAL
McNeese State 56
Coppin State 56 FINAL
Michigan 72
Furman 76 FINAL
Minnesota 86
SE Missouri St 51 FINAL
Ole Miss 82
Weber State 51 FINAL
Oklahoma 85
Grambling St 39 FINAL
TCU 80
Loyola-Chicago 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
Incarnate Word 47 FINAL
Tulsa 76
Penn 50 FINAL
Vanderbilt 79
Chicago State 38 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 63
Simpson 62 FINAL
Drake 84
Tenn Tech 81 FINAL
Murray State 83 FINAL
Southern Ill 71
Oral Roberts 45 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Jacksonville St 65 1st OT 0:20
Air Force 66
Milwaukee 47 2nd Half 7:08
Arkansas 62
Wisconsin 66 2nd Half 1:21
California 48
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
LSU 71
North Dakota 54 FINAL
Marquette 67
Northern New Mexico 39 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
UC Santa Barbara 69 2nd Half 1:20
Oregon 70
Miami-Florida 51 2nd Half 7:30
Providence 62
Northeastern 68 1st OT 2:21
St Marys-CA 70
Kent State 52 2nd Half 9:31
Texas-El Paso 59
UC Davis 68 2nd Half 0:46
Northern Colorado 63
Lewis-Clark State 81 FINAL
Eastern Wash 87
Walla Walla 52 FINAL
Portland State 94
TX A&M-CC 32 2nd Half
Cal State Fullerton 36
Marshall 30 2nd Half
Nevada 38
Boise State 14 1st Half 11:59
Houston 11
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
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Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
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North Carolina
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Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 59 FINAL
(16) Stanford 71
Washington St 87 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 60
Sacramento St 94 FINAL
San Jose St 97
SIU-Edwardsville 74 FINAL
Oakland 92 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Belmont 43 FINAL
(14) Georgia 62
George Mason 83 FINAL
Longwood 61
Kansas 81 FINAL
Creighton 84
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Kansas State 68
UT Martin 65 FINAL
Missouri 74
Hampton 67 FINAL
DePaul 86
Florida State 65 FINAL
Tulane 54
Murray State 44 FINAL
Illinois 64
Fla Gulf Coast 74 FINAL
Arkansas State 68
BYU 50 1st OT
Utah State 50
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