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Rural vs. urban battle fought in state Senate over Legacy parks funding

Rural senators were able to keep the funding tilted toward outstate parks. But the House version tips funding towards the metro, so a conference committee debate will ensue.

Metro-area state senators tried to grab a bigger share of the state’s Legacy funding for urban parks on Wednesday, but rural Senators fended off the attack, reports the Fargo Forum.

The issue was over division of some Legacy funds, which come from  added sales tax revenue and are dedicated to the outdoors and the arts. Part of the fund goes to parks, with 40 percent to Twin Cities parks, 40 percent to rural parks and 20 percent to state parks, the story said.

But with the House version of the bill calling for 43 percent to Twin Cities parks, the battle now moves to conference committee.

In the Senate, Sen. Chris Eaton, a DFLer from Brooklyn Center, tried to change the formula with an amendment to give 43 percent to Twin Cities parks, because more of the money actually comes from the metro area.

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 Eaton said:

“We need balance. The current bill is not balanced. Members, we are just asking for more fair distribution of legacy money.”

State Sen. Scott Newman, a Republican from Hutchinson, said rural Minnesota is “under assault once again.” Other rural senators noted that many Twin Cities residents use parks around the state to get away.

But state Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, said residents in his district cannot afford to visit state parks outside the Twin Cities, let alone pay for rural parks, the story said.