In a rare show of unity this Legislative session, the Minnesota House voted unanimously Tuesday to hand out $527 million in Legacy funding to arts, environmental and cultural heritage groups and projects across the state.
The state has doled out the money in every two-year budget cycle since voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. The vote raised the state's sales tax by three-eighths of one percent and funnels the money into the fund for clean water projects, wetland and wildlife habitat restoration and to support Minnesota's cultural heritage.
About $111 million from this year's pot of Legacy funds is set to go to clean-water projects, including efforts to protect drinking water from contaminants. That money will be split up amongst a handful of state agencies, the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota. Another $103 million will go toward prairie, forest and wetland restoration projects.
Arts and cultural heritage groups will get slices of about $123 million in Legacy funds. About $57.3 million will be split up as grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, with recipients including the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society, set to get $250,000 in each of the next two years for a Chinese garden in St. Paul's Phalen Park, and $375,000 each year for the city of Savage and the State Agricultural Society to build two statues of Dan Patch for the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and the city of Savage.
Meanwhile, the Carver County Historical Society is set to get $125,000 in each of the next two years to restore the Andrew Peterson farm in Waconia. The Woodbury Barn Heritage Commission would get the same among to restore the Miller Barn in Woodbury. The Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel Foundation will get $100,000 to restore stained glass in the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel in Bloomington.
The Legacy bill also helps fund cultural heritage programming on Minnesota Public Radio ($1.6 million each year), education and restoration work at Como Park Zoo (a total of $1.9 million), design and construction work at the Green Giant Museum in Blue Earth ($300,000) and performances around the state by the Minnesota State Band ($25,000 in each of the next two years.)
A full list of the projects and programs funded is in the bill.