The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 8, 2013

Cross: Our grandkids will one day thank us

I finally bought a new, used pickup truck a couple of months ago to replace the tired, rusty one that had rolled up nearly a quarter-million miles on the odometer.

Talking round numbers, I ended up parting with about $17,000 cash in the deal for the fresh set of wheels, a sizable-but-manageable sum for an ink-stained newspaper guy.

Of course, there then was the sales tax to pay. But more of that later.

It’s been five years since Minnesota voters went to the polls and approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

Passing the amendment — which called for increasing the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent until the year 2034, with proceeds dedicated to the improvement and protection of natural resources, the arts and culture of Minnesota — was the easy part.

After all, we Minnesotans love the great outdoors.

Many of us also appreciate the intangible value that arts and culture bring to our quality of life.

Voters approved it by a 2-to-1 margin.

The toughest part, really, had been to get the Minnesota Legislature, which historically hates the idea of dedicated funds, to agree to put the amendment question to the voters at all.

But citizens who had grown weary of watching the continued erosion of the state’s natural resources after years of getting short-shrifted in the budgeting process kept lawmakers’ feet to the fire.

Finally, after years of lobbying by conservation groups and others, they listened and the measure was placed on ballot in November 2008.

Now in 2013, the Legacy Amendment already has generated about a billion dollars, the lion’s share finding its way back into conservation efforts.

Shortly after the amendment’s passage, I received a call from a representative from a taxpayers’ group who took issue with my and other Minnesota citizens’ support of the Legacy Amendment.

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