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Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, urges lawmakers to support a nearly $400 million outdoors and arts spending package on the last day of the 2009 legislative session. The funding, which will come from a new statewide sales tax increase voters approved last year, was the highlight of outdoors and environment issues lawmakers dealt with this year. Murphy led a committee that compiled the spending package. Tribune photo by Scott Wente

New sales tax goes to outdoors uses

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ST. PAUL -- The environment and outdoors scored big in an otherwise rough Minnesota legislative session.

A $4.6 billion budget deficit prompted spending cuts to most budget areas, including agencies dealing with the environment. But those budget reductions to ongoing state programs were overshadowed by approval of the first plan for spending constitutionally protected dollars on the outdoors, water cleanup projects and parks.

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