Vote ‘no’ on amendment

Students hitting the polls on Nov. 4 to pick the candidates who will represent them for two to six years should also consider an amendment to the state Constitution that could have a 25-year impact on Minnesotans and our environment. The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment would increase the sales tax rate beginning July 1, 2009, by three-eighths of 1 percent until 2034. The tax rate would go from 6.5 to 6.875 percent. If enacted it would raise about $271 million annually to fund clean water projects: water quality in lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and at least five percent must be spent to protect drinking water sources ($100 million); outdoor heritage: wetlands, prairies, forests, habitat for fish, game and wildlife ($100 million), arts and cultural heritage ($59 million); and parks and trails of âÄúregional or statewide significanceâÄù ($43 million). Some estimates suggest that 40 percent of state waters are polluted âÄî and most have not even been tested. Funding is necessary and could increase tourism, which would bring money to the state economy and ultimately repay itself. It should not, however, be funded through the means of a constitutional amendment. The price tag is a costly one during a looming recession and an expected revenue shortfall to the state, officials will be faced with difficult budgetary decisions. Though we support the improvements to the environment, the amendment seeks to provide funding for, a funding solution to improve the stateâÄôs environment should go through the legislative process. A constitutional amendment should not be the means to garnering funding as it sets a poor precedent that should be achieved at the Capitol. If addressed at the Capitol, legislators would be able to weigh and prioritize funding and outline the goals of increased funding with much more detail. Currently, the proposed amendment is too vague and overbroad. A legislative process could potentially define the outcomes of the funding so that peopleâÄôs tax dollars are not being wasted.