Outdoor panel splits over how to spend amendment moneyby Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The committee setting priorities for spending a portion of Minnesota's new sales tax is divided over how to spend the first round of money.
A 3/8 of 1 percent sales tax is scheduled to take effect this summer, dedicated to outdoor and cultural resources.
The 12-member Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council is divvying up millions of dollars that will go to environmental and recreation projects, but remains divided on a list of initial spending.
They disagree on how much money to spend in the Twin Cities vs. the rest of the state; hunting and fishing vs. other forms of recreation; and whether to buy more land or fix up existing state land.
Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, is one of the council members. He says restoration of existing land is important in the faltering economy. Hanson says simply buying land doesn't create jobs.
"If you're doing wetland restoration, you're hiring a local contractor, you're buying local seed. If you're planting trees, you're buying trees from a local nursery," said Hanson. "So there's work involved with that, rather than just the acquisition."
Council members have until April 1 to recommend a final list of projects. They will meet to discuss the projects again on Monday.