Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sales tax funds environment and arts (or will it)?

Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) Photo: Minnesota House of RepresentativesRep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) informed us that the board that is charged with overseeing the sales tax revenue that is now constitutionally dedicated to the environment and arts wants a large piece of the action for its own expenses:
In November [2008], voters passed a sales tax increase to fund the environment and the arts. A portion of this new revenue (33 percent) will be allocated by the newly created Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council. This week in committee, this council asked that $150,000 be transferred from the Department of Natural Resources water recreation account to the council for administrative and travel expenses from November 2008 to October 2009.

Several members raised concerns over this proposal, myself included. The transfer comes to roughly $13,000 per month or over $1,000 per council member in expenses. I think the people of Minnesota believed this money would go to the environment and arts. In committee, myself and others advocated for accountability measures to be put in place.

Voting for "the environment" and "the arts" may feel good, but the price is bigger government, more bureaucracy, and higher permanent spending as well — even when sales tax revenue goes down. Kudos to Anderson for raising the question, who's watching the watchdog?

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