Activists are discovering the power of working together to bring accountability to their communities.
It’s the closest thing to handing government a blank check. The passage of a three-eighths cent statewide sales tax increase in the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008 gives lawmakers hundreds of millions of dollars that must be spent every biennium by law.
This session lawmakers will hand out $527 million raised by the sales tax. Most of the windfall goes to water, parks, trails and assorted environmental projects. The remainder–$127 million this session–goes to arts and cultural heritage groups around the state.
The laundry list of lucky winners unanimously approved this week in the Minnesota House includes $3.2 million for Minnesota Public Radio, $500,000 for a Chinese garden for the city of St. Paul and $750,000 for two statutes of the immortal race horse Dan Patch–one for the city of Savage, the other for the State Fair.
But the giveaway that towers over all the rest goes to the Jolly Green Giant. The bill doles out $300,000 “to the city of Blue Earth to predesign, design, construct, furnish, and equip the Green Giant Museum to preserve the culture and history of Minnesota.”
For decades, the “museum” was a collection of memorabilia that anyone interested could check out in local resident Lowell Steen’s basement. A few years ago, the city took over displaying the advertising icon’s artifacts and Little Green Sprout memorabilia in the former fire hall, along with the world’s largest Jolly Green Giant statue.
Nothing against the big green guy. After all, I worked several summers at Green Giant’s canning plants in Cokato and Glencoe. But as American Experiment often points out, Minnesota can do better with your tax dollars.