Sales tax money for arts, outdoors moving slowlyby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Dedicated funding from a voter-approved sales tax increase has been accumulating since July 1st, but state lawmakers learned today that the spending of the money will move slowly.
During the 2009 session, the Legislature approved nearly $400 million worth of habitat, water, park and arts projects for the next two years. Members of the House Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance Division heard an update from the state agencies and organizations involved in the projects during a day-long hearing.
Sue Gens of the Minnesota State Arts Board told lawmakers that her organization recently completed a series of listening sessions throughout the state and will begin making grants by the end of the year.
"We do know that there are tremendous needs out there, that there are a lot of great programs that we will probably not be able to fund," she said. "So, we're going to try to be as smart about that and as careful as we can about it." One state official warned the House panel that lower-than-expected sales tax collections might require adjustments in the spending plans approved earlier this year.