Conservation Minnesota, which has been publishing detailed analyses of state spending on conservation and the environment since 2002, has issued its latest report. It is an accounting of how the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton funded — or did not fund — environmental priorities for the two-year budget cycle that ends June 30, 2013.
“No Raids, No Shifts, No Gimmicks” is the title of the latest report, and that reflects Conservation Minnesota’s platform for state budgeting. The report argues that about 1 percent of the state’s General Fund, supported primarily by income and sales taxes, traditionally has been spent on the environment. In recent years, as the state faced repeated deficits, lawmakers and successive governor have allowed that rate of support to drop to .7 percent, the report asserts.
It says five state agencies – the Pollution Control Agency, Natural Resources, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, Metro Parks, and Agriculture – sustained more than $40 million in General Fund cuts for environmental programs in the 2012-13 biennium.
The report urges Dayton and lawmakers to resist the – unconstitutional – temptation to use money from the sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008 to backfill General Fund reductions.