PNS Daily Newscast - August 22, 2019 

The latest Trump child-detention policy sparks harsh criticism. Also on the Thursday rundown: New York sues the EPA over Hudson River PCBs.

Daily Newscasts

Minnesotans Consider Spending Billions on the Environment

October 30, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Both sides of a proposed clean water constitutional amendment on Tuesday's ballot are calling themselves "cautiously optimistic" about their prospects for victory. The "Clean Water and Legacy Amendment" would raise the state sales tax three-eights of a percent, calculated to bring in $11 billion over 25 years.

The goals are to protect wildlife and forests, help provide clean water and support the arts, explains Paul Aasen with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

"This amendment is designed to put money towards preserving the resources that we all love - the precious wetlands in particular, the transition lands that are good for habitat."

Aasen says the legislature hasn't been able to find a sufficient, reliable source of funding, and support for outdoor priorities is at a 30-year low.

"This is asking Minnesotans to make a $300 million a year investment in water, land and legacy. That is a $10 billion industry per year in our state, so the return on investment makes sense."

The proposed sales tax increase would come to about a dollar a week for the average Minnesota family. Aasen points out that part of the money, about $100 million a year, will be dedicated to restoring and preserving critical lands.

"By 2030, we're expecting another million people to come and live in Minnesota. For each person who comes, we expect to lose about an acre of currently open land. Some of that may be farm fields. Some of that is wetlands. Some of that is forests."

Supporters say the arts are included because there's a connection between the natural environment and the artistic and cultural environment, and the arts are also significantly under-funded. Opponents, including the Chamber of Commerce, say it's poor public policy to put a huge tax increase in the state constitution. In their view, the amendment is too broad and too pricey.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN