Gov. Mark Dayton used his line-item veto authority to remove two contentious projects from the Legacy Bill passed by lawmakers on the final day of the session.
Dayton removed a $6.3 million allocation for metropolitan regional parks and $3 million to stop aquatic invasive species, according to a statement released by his office this morning.
Several legislators, the Nature Conservancy and nearly two dozen other habitat and sportsmen’s groups had requested the projects be removed, because neither was endorsed by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which is a citizens panel that helps to decide how legacy amendment sales tax revenue is spent.
In a letter (posted below) to House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, Dayton said the decision was extremely difficult.
“I have given contradictory assurances to legislators during the past few days and to thousands of Minnesotans during the past few years,” Dayton wrote. “I have decided that I must honor my promise to those citizens.”
Dayton also noted a high level of acrimony and distrust between legislators and concerned citizens over the issue.
“The bitterness is not about the merits of the two projects I am vetoing, but rather the way in which they were added and other significant changes proposed to the House bill.”
Dayton also recommended that the leadership of the House Legacy Committee, which is chaired by Minneapolis DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn, repair its relations with the Lessard-Sams council and outdoors groups.
Kahn said the advisory group rejected the proposal without recognizing its benefits; she said the metro area provides important habitat.
“The metropolitan area is a major part of the Mississippi flyway, which is the most internationally renowned part of Minnesota state’s natural heritage map,” Kahn said. “That duck that gets shot in Crow Wing County probably stopped for lunch and breakfast in Hennepin County and Dakota County.”
MPR reporter Stephanie Hemphill contributed to this report.