Dayton letter nixing $3 million for AIS Protection
Dear Mr. Speaker:
• Pages 13-14, lines 13.33-14.2: "$6,300,000 in the first year is to the Metropolitan
Council for grants to restore and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for
fish, game, and wildlife in the metropolitan regional parks system."
• Page 16, lines 16.3-16.9: "Of this amount, $3,000,000 is for aquatic invasive species
grants to tribal and local governments with a delegation agreement under Minnesota
Statutes, section 84D.1 05, subdivision 2, paragraph (g), for education, inspection, and
decontamination activities at public water access, and other sites."
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.
I believe that this decision also represents the best interests of the people of Minnesota,
who care deeply about the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Legacy Fund. In my thi1ieen 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.
As the legislative session approached its final hours, this battle over money, priorities,
and prerogatives threatened to block passage of the entire Legacy Bill, which contained $496
million of funding for impmiant projects throughout our state. Last Sunday afternoon you,
Senator Bakk, and I agreed to a compromise, in which the above two items would be included in
the Legacy Conference Repmi. Although I had expressed my strong opposition to altering the
recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Council before and during the session, it appeared at that
time that our only two options were to: 1) agree to this compromise, or 2) jeopardize passage of
the entire bill.
At that time, I hoped that the thousands of Minnesotans, who are deeply committed to the
work of the Lessard-Sams Council, would accept our compromise. Since the bill's passage,
however, I have heard from many organizations, representing thousands of our citizens, who
believe my approval of those two items would betray the promises I have made repeatedly during
the past four years to respect the Council's decisions.
I also note that investments in Metro parks, including habitat improvements, received
other funding from the legislature this year:
• $9.085mm from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for Metro habitat;
• $33.774mm for Metro Parks and Trails grants from the Legacy Fund;
• $17 .08mm to the Metropolitan Council for base funding for regional parks, from the
Environment Finance bill; and
• $5.62mm from LCCMR for Metro-area habitat acquisition;
totaling $65.559 million.
I also note that the following aquatic invasive species (AIS) received other funding from
the Legislature this year as well, including:
• $8.526mm was appropriated in the Environment Finance bill to combat AIS; and
• $9 .84mm was appropriate in the LCCMR bill for AIS research investments.
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.
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.