Sesquicentennial fundraising lagsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
A Minnesota House committee will discuss Monday whether to give more taxpayer money to the panel in charge of planning official events surrounding the 150th anniversary of Minnesota statehood.
St. Paul, Minn. — The sesquicentennial commission is the planning committee for events this year.
Panel member and state Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, said she'll ask for about $825,000 more, in part, because private fundraising has proven more difficult.
"Raising the private funds has been a challenge," Loeffler said, in an interview. "We're in a recession and I think there's been some sense from some in the fundraising community that we don't really fit anyone's neat, grant-giving guidelines. It's not programs just for children or it's not just for sports."
But she added that the money is for a good use.
"I think we've worked really hard to make it not a party, but to make it something that's really meaningful," said Loeffler. "We've heard from the Native American community that they appreciate the fact that we're helping people understand there was a Minnesota before we became a state."
The events being planned by the panel include a performance at the State Fair, a series of grants to local communities so they can plan their own celebrations, and a series of meetings around the state in which Minnesotans are asked to discuss their hopes for the future.
The commission also recently paid for highway signs that note the state's 150th birthday. Those signs are posted at 67 entry points along the state's border.
Loeffler's funding request and Gov. Pawlenty's allocation in his budget would bring the state's combined contribution this year to nearly $1 million. The state also gave the commission $750,000 last year.