by Jenny Stiner, 4/11/08 • In 2003, thirty-two percent of arts funding was lost in a State deficit. Every time funding is cut the environment and arts are left with the least amount which is minimal. I found this very interesting because as a citizen I feel that the environment is a huge part of our daily life. There is a constitutional amendment which has been brought before the House and the Senate. This decision will now leave the funding up to the voters. This is great because we will finally be able to decide if we want our taxes raised. Voters will be able to decide if they want to raise the sales tax by .375 percent to ensure funding for the environment, arts, and culture. The arts and environment need a certain sum of funding set aside and protected. A constitutional amendment passed will send a statement to the United States. This movement will show the integrity and love of the arts by Minnesotans on a state and national level.
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Minnesota is realizing the many challenges in the environment now more than ever before. The state’s population is growing and will continue to grow. It is estimated that over the next 25 years there will be a growth of 1.2 million people. There are water quality standards that are not being met and there is strain being placed on development involving our lakes, river, parks, and natural areas because of the lack of funding.
One will wonder how this amendment will benefit Minnesota. This will ensure that we have protection and a certain amount of money to direct toward the restoration of the environment and our cultural heritage and parks. Passing this amendment will show the importance of our state and our stance as Minnesotans. This will ensure safety for us as human beings. In the conference committee they reached an agreement to divide the funding, 33% for habitat, 33% for clean water, 14.25% for parks and trails, and 19.75% for arts and culture. This is all the areas that effect and shape Minnesota. The downfall of this amendment is that the members from the Republican and Democratic parties were concerned that the amendment will affect other proposals in regards to education and health care.
The legislature will continue to overlook the funding for environment and culture and direct it toward education and transportation. Minnesota’s constitution was just amended in the past year to dedicate more funding to transportation. When there are tough budget times, the environment and arts are where the cuts are usually taken. We began by receiving two percent of the state’s budget to only receiving one percent at this present time. One can wonder how a community is supposed to develop and enhance our state with this type of budget.
Where do the arts and environment fall? Is this important to Minnesotans? Passing this amendment is not only for the outlook of Minnesota, but the well being of our citizens today and those in the coming years. Clean water is a must for our everyday life. The arts and historical culture shape who we are today. Minnesotans will have to decide whether or not this truly affects them in a crucial way. On November 4th the people of Minnesota will have the opportunity to dedicate 276 million dollars to clean water, the environment, parks and trails, and the arts by increasing their sales tax. This will give stable funding for all these important ways of everyday living for us and our children.
This blog post was written as part of a citizen journalism class at Anoka Ramsey Community College.