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American Opinion - On legacy funds:

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opinion Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

An excerpt from recent editorials in Minnesota newspapers:

From The Associated Press

On legacy funds:

What are taxpayers getting for their money?

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Welcome to the biggest question looming over Minnesota's Legacy Amendment funding decisions. Expect to hear it a lot in the next few months as legislators approve beginning the second round of Legacy funding.

Regular readers know this state sales tax tool will collect and spend $11 billion by 2036 on preserving the state's natural resources, arts and cultural heritage. Of course, they also know this board has long opposed such an approach to spending tax dollars, largely because it removes accountability for elected officials.

Well, here is a bit of good news regarding what taxpayers get for their money: This board recently talked with the Minnesota Historical Society about how it has handled its Legacy funds and the board came away impressed with the society's transparent and user-friendly approach.

While the Legislature did create a website (www.legacy.leg.mn) to help citizens monitor Legacy funds, the society went one better and created its own site to help Minnesotans see for themselves how the society is awarding the money it is allotted. This site, www.mnhs.org/legacy, is much more detailed, user-friendly and informative than the state's broad-brush approach. ...

Visit the historical society's site, though, and you will find very detailed information about what it's done with Legacy funding. ...

Society leaders also point out that each project knows it has been funded through this fiscal year only and that none have added staff or other costs that must be covered by taxpayers if or when Legacy funds are not available.

To its credit, the society also worked with Wilder Research and the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality to meet the legislative mandate that its Legacy projects "must include measurable outcomes, and a plan for measuring and evaluating the results." Studies indicate that for every $1 invested into history and cultural heritage, $1.95 was put back into the state and local communities.

Such a finding is important to know. Similarly, residents should appreciate the society's solid effort to be transparent with Legacy funds.

As the state gets ready to distribute another half-billion of Minnesotans' money, we urge all Legacy recipients at the state, county or local levels to adopt similar practices.

-- St. Cloud Times

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