A tough lesson

Last Thursday, state officials announced that Minnesota will be in a $5.2 billion deficit for the next two years âÄî one of the worst in state history. Lawmakers then started to speculate that money from the newly voter-approved Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment would be tapped to help erase the deficit. The amendment, which voters approved in November, allocates three-eighths of a percentage point increase to the stateâÄôs sales tax, which, in turn, would go toward protecting the environment and MinnesotaâÄôs cultural tradition. Newspaper editorial boards feared that this amendment would act as a voter-assisted package to erase the upcoming budget deficit come December. We are now starting to realize that our fears have come true. State officials have noted that âÄúnothing is off the tableâÄù in making upcoming budget decisions. Creativity is awash with potential rumored cuts that officials are considering. Privatizing Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport , legalizing video lottery in bars and the construction of a state-owned and operated casino are options being considered. These options all, at least, merit debate âÄî except for using the amendment money. That lawmakers are thinking about using funds from the amendment to pay off the state deficit illustrates the inherent problem with the amendment and is why this Editorial Board opposed it. Nevertheless, the voters spoke. They approved the amendment with a clear majority, and let it be a harsh lesson to the state: Tax increases should never be written into MinnesotaâÄôs Constitution. Not only does it show a plain disregard for the legislative process, but it creates problems for the state in dire times like these.