Granted it’s not a very good map I’ve posted, but if you can see the red dots, you get the picture. The Lessard Outdoors Heritage Council, the group of citizens that recommends to the Legislature how outdoors money from the increased sales tax should be spent, has spread the projects around, mostly outstate.
Let the debate begin! Should the money be spent in proportion to where people live? Or where the habitat is? The two are often not quite the same.
Oh, wait, it already has.
Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, sees this partially as an economic stimulus plan, and says restoration of land (and there’s plenty of land to be restored in the metro) creates jobs. “If you’re doing wetland restoration, you’re hiring a local contractor, you’re buying local seed. If you’re planting trees, you’re buying trees from a local nursery,” said Hanson. “So there’s work involved with that, rather than just the acquisition.”
But Dennis Anderson, the outdoors columnist at the Star Tribune, warns the Legislature against messing with the Council’s recommendations.
ither way, none of this is happening in a vacuum. The constitutional amendment raising the sales tax was approved by nearly 60 percent of voters, and many voters said “yes” because the Lessard council had been established to sift through and recommend fish and wildlife habitat proposals. Succinctly put: No one trusted the Legislature to do this correctly, absent a citizen-dominated advisory group.
Now, should the Legislature mess significantly with the Lessard proposals — and the House apparently will try — a rally is being considered on the Capitol mall by supporters, a rally that will make the similar gatherings there in 2005 and 2006 that attracted some 10,000 conservationists (combined) look like practice.
Over the next few weeks, plenty of sound bites will describe what the 60-percent of those who voted for the sales tax increase intended. If you voted for the increase, what was your intention?