How is it that in the midst of a recession and just four weeks after the collapse of America’s investment banks, a constitutional amendment to fund the arts and environment by implementing a 3/8% sales tax increase for the next 25 years was more popular in Minnesota than any political candidate, including President-elect Barack Obama, who received 60,000 votes less than the tax-increase?
With 56% of Minnesotans voting “YES” on the Legacy Amendment, it is clear that citizens place a high level of importance on this state’s natural and cultural resources.
The Vote Yes campaign assembled a coalition of sportsmen, arts groups and conservationists to break down party lines and secure a clear majority. Their work was made easier by the commonly held view that the Minnesota State Legislature is incapable of securing the necessary funding through the normal channels.
Funding questions and legislative battles will not become a thing of the past with the passage of the amendment. With the state facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, some lawmakers have already begun eying the money secured by the Legacy Amendment to balance the books. But many politicians will be hesitant to go against a majority of Minnesotans backed by a political coalition riding high after an electoral victory.
Story by Tom Elko