Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed more than $9 million in funding in the Legacy Bill, saying he made contradictory promises to citizens during his campaign and to legislators during the session, and that he’s honoring the pledge to citizens.
The money is $6.3 million for metro parks and $3 million for fighting invasive species.
Neither appropriation had been approved by the Lessard-Sams Council, the citizen group charged with making recommendations on outdoors projects to be funded by Legacy sales tax revenues.
Former Viking Coach Bud Grant and other outdoors advocates had urged the governor to make those deletions.
Wrote the governor in his veto letter (PDF):
“This decision is extremely difficult for me. I attach great importance to keeping my word. Unfortunately, in this instance, I have given contradictory assurances to legislators during the past few days and to thousands of Minnesotans during the past few years. I have decided that I must honor my promise to those citizens.
…In my thirteen legislative sessions, I have rarely seen the acrimony and distrust, which this dispute has caused between legislators and concerned citizens. The bitterness is not about the merits of the two projects I am vetoing, but rather the way in which they were added and other significant changes were proposed to the House bill.”
Dayton said he’d hoped that there would be agreement with a legislative compromise on the issue, but there wasn’t. He notes that metro parks and the fight against invasive species both received other funding during the session. But, he said:
“Nevertheless, my line-item vetoes do not reflect a lack of support for the two projects; rather they underscore my conviction that the House Legacy Committee must work with its citizen councils, not against them. I will ask the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to reconsider these two projects when it assembles its next funding recommendations.”
And he made this admonition:
I believe it is imperative that the leadership of the House Legacy Committee repair its relations with the Lessard-Sams Council and the many sportsmen, sportswomen, outdoor recreation enthusiasts, hunters, anglers, and everyone else committed to the enhancement of our state’s priceless outdoor heritage. Otherwise, I have serious doubts that a Legacy Bill can be enacted in future legislative sessions.