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 MinnesotaStatutes, section 84D.1 05, subdivision 2, paragraph (g), for education, inspection, anddecontamination activities at public water access, and other sites."This decision is extremely difficult for me. I attach great importance to keeping myword. Unfortunately, in this instance, I have given contradictory assurances to legislators duringthe past few days and to thousands of Minnesotans during the past few years. I have decided thatI 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 legislativesessions, I have rarely seen the acrimony and distrust, which this dispute has caused betweenlegislators and concerned citizens. The bitterness is not about the merits of the two projects I amvetoing, but rather the way in which they were added and other significant changes wereproposed 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 $496million 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 inthe Legacy Conference Repmi. Although I had expressed my strong opposition to altering therecommendations of the Lessard-Sams Council before and during the session, it appeared at thattime that our only two options were to: 1) agree to this compromise, or 2) jeopardize passage ofthe entire bill.At that time, I hoped that the thousands of Minnesotans, who are deeply committed to thework 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 duringthe past four years to respect the Council's decisions.I also note that investments in Metro parks, including habitat improvements, receivedother 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 theEnvironment 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 fromthe 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 itscitizen councils, not against them. I will ask the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council toreconsider these two projects when it assembles its next funding recommendations.I believe it is imperative that the leadership of the House Legacy Committee repair itsrelations with the Lessard-Sams Council and the many sportsmen, sportswomen, outdoorrecreation enthusiasts, hunters, anglers, and everyone else committed to the enhancement of ourstate's priceless outdoor heritage. Otherwise, I have serious doubts that a Legacy Bill can beenacted in future legislative sessions.