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Grove City lawmaker will chair Legacy Funding Division

In this undated photo, Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, listens to a lawmaker's question during a House Education Policy Committee hearing. Urdahl will chair the Legacy Funding Division. Tribune photo by Don Davis

GROVE CITY -- While most legislative committee chairman will be looking for ways to reduce spending the state's revenues, Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, will be looking for ways to spend revenue.

Urdahl, who represents District 18B, has been named chairman of the Legacy Funding Division.

Formerly known as the Cultural Outdoors Resources Committee, the committee is in charge of allocating revenue generated from the three-eighths cent sales tax.

"Most finance committees are going to be cutting their budget or dealing with budget shortfalls," Urdahl said. By contrast, the Legacy Funding Division is "constitutionally required to spend money."

Urdahl said his lifelong interest in clean water, parks, trails and history fits nicely with the duties of the committee, which provides funding for outdoors and cultural projects.

He was on the committee last year as a minority member.

Last year the committee "listened to a lot of requests" and divvied up $300 million in new revenue that will be spread out over 2010 and 2011. The money was distributed to agencies, like the Minnesota Historical Society and State Arts Board, which then parceled out grants for specific projects.

As chairman, Urdahl said he will evaluate the process that was used last year and see if changes should be made this time around as they allocate funding for 2012-13.

Urdahl said he's eager to begin his new job.

"I'm prepared to deal with this and I'm looking to doing good things for the people of Minnesota."

Coincidentally, on the day the committee appointments were made, Urdahl was in Alexandria giving a speech to the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails group. The group wasn't aware of Urdahl's appointment when they invited him. They wanted to hear about ways parks in Greater Minnesota could get Legacy funding.

Last year all of the parks funding went to metro parks, Urdahl said.

There's "been a struggle over the years" to fund regional parks in Greater Minnesota, he said.

Because there are "quite a few more Greater Minnesota legislators than there were before," Urdahl said there may be more equity in the funding for outstate parks in the future.

"It's a matter of being fair," he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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