By Pat Kessler

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Tempers flared at the Minnesota State Capitol Tuesday over funding for programs on the environment and natural resources.

Those environmental spending packages passed both legislative houses, clearing the Minnesota Senate 37-28 and the Minnesota House 72-57.
But Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources said budget cuts in the bills could affect everyone who visits a state park this summer.

The bill cuts $65 million from environment and natural resources programs, but adds money for emergency priorities including fighting Asian Carp and chronic wasting disease.

But DNR officials warned the budget cuts are so deep, it may be forced to close up to 26 state parks and lay off workers.
That brought jeers and catcalls from Republicans, who said the department is using political scare tactics.

“If you cut us like you’re cutting us, we gotta close 20 percent of the parks,” said Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, mocking the DNR.

McNamara called park closings an overreaction to what he said were relatively minimal — but necessary — budget cuts.

“Oh my goodness gracious, we have to close 20 percent of the parks? You’re cutting us 2 percent! We can’t handle that! We’re state government,” continued McNamara.

The Minnesota House added a special order, directing the DNR not to close a single park, causing Democrats to accuse Republicans of denying the consequences of the cuts they make.

“Republicans!” called out Rep. Paul Thissen, the DFL Minority Leader. “You continue to deny reality and think that by waving a magic wand and just saying ‘It shall be so,’ that it shall be so.”

House Republicans did remove one item too sensitive even for them: a plan to harvest expensive and highly-sought black walnut trees from two state parks.

The author of the bill argued the DNR is leaving state money on the forest floor.

“The DNR has allowed these resources, these valuable resources, these assets owned by the state of Minnesota, to rot on the stump,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa.

According to a fiscal analysis provided by the House Republican Majority, below are the major parts of the bill:

  • Total Funding: $228 million
  • Total Reductions: $65.396 million
  • Provides $25 million in LCCMR/Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund projects
  • Re-allocates some funds to higher priority needs, including $5 million for aquatic invasive and $1.2 million for chronic wasting disease
  • No fee or tax increases
  • Minimizes reductions to Minnesota Zoo (10 percent); Commerce (7.5 percent) and PUC (0 percent)
  • Directs MPCA to promulgate rules for sulfate standards; changes the current standard (which was set in the 1940s) from 10 mlg liter to 50 mlg until new standard is in effect; and provides permit holders with a reasonable period of time to comply with new standards
Comments (19)
  1. NRA Member says:

    I suspect that anyone who enjoys the outdoors, and that includes a lot of NRA members like myself, as a collective group we just may be shifting to the left come the next election.
    I HTG think the Republicans are losing touch with what matters and affects many under the guise of no taxes. Hell – I hate taxes but I will pay them to retain what I think is a quality of life.
    Do you people hear us in St. Paul ? ? ?

    1. Phid says:

      Wow, did you even learn to the right to begin with? If you were truly conservative – as you are suggesting you are – then you would also believe that government spending is out of control and needs to be reduced. You would also realize that it is the TAXPAYERS’ dollar that our representative are spending.Tough times call for tough decisions – ones that the Democrats don’t want to make.

      1. Peter says:

        One can lean to the right. Spending is not out of control on the state level as they have to balance the books. The question arises are you spending the money well. The worse part of the discourse is the egocentric and the black and white thinking throughout this board

  2. junior fretting says:

    and don’t hesitate to raise our license fees a bit if the money is used properly. Without it we may be a naked prairie w/o game to hunt.

    just sayin’ you morons need to think. Most of you have no fricken clue what it smells like outdoors but some of us do. Someday when the ol’ lady kicks your sorry ass out the door you may need a place to pitch a tent and duck to eat. you been warned you schmucks

  3. Cindy says:

    Send to Dayton and then lets discuss a new stadium. Maybe the owners want to sit ok with what we have and start giving back to a broken community that is NOT benefiting at the current time from any new stadium or sports team as of todays date.

  4. Grizzlyman says:

    Maybe they should lay off some administrative people and reduce the supervisor to employee ratio from say around 1 to 2 to around 1 to 30. Then they could reduce enforcement officer numbers around 10 percent. If they are crying over a 2 percent reduction in funding, maybe they should try running a family on ever shrinking income and funding ever growing government entitlement. The administration running the DNR should all be summarily fired if they can’t deal with a 2 percent reduction.

    1. Earl says:

      Is the 1:2 supervisor ratio a number you pulled out of an orfice in the lower part of your body? 2% sounds like a small number but the article states total funding 228 million, reduction 65 million. That is not 2% that is 22 %

  5. Grizzlyman says:

    In addendum: I also belong to the NRA, however I can’t think of a thing that would entice me to turn to the left. Why not just hand over all your guns now if that is what you are thinking.

    1. Derrick says:

      No more than the Republics appear to care about wildlife, do you use them to shoot skeet or just look pretty in the case?

    2. Alan says:

      @ grizzleman
      As a left leaning person own all the guns you want. Sell them in the legal manner if you must sell them. Gun safety course are not a bad thing. But there are some guns that do not belong out in public. Armor piercing bullets don’t need to be out there. There are so many unlicensed guns out there the officials will never be rid of them.

  6. paab says:

    Do you know it is illegal to drink an alcoholic beverage in a State Park? Check it out it is true, there you are sitting by the campfire and it is 10 oclock, yup you have to be in bed by 10, and here comes a little hittler telling you to go to bed and that better not be a beer or you can go to jail. Please cut the budget, then you will only have six of these hitlers walking around together instead of 10.

    1. Chris K says:

      Sounds good. Then I can burn a doobie in peace.

  7. Chris K says:

    I believe in gun control, that is why I use both hands. Banning military assualt weapons (bushmasters, ak 47s& drum clips) is different than my Glock or pop’s revolver.

  8. Chris K says:

    The left isn’t taking away your guns. Obama signed the law allowing firearms into national parks.

  9. Sammy says:

    This is always the first thing they say…we have to close parks. What do you expect them to say? We have to cut our government life time pensions?
    What a joke. Just like cities.. first thing they say is we have to cut police and firemen… Union thugs, nothing more…

  10. Sam says:

    “Oh my goodness gracious, we have to close 20 percent of the parks? You’re cutting us 2 percent! We can’t handle that! We’re state government,” continued McNamara.

    Perhaps McNamara needs to go back to elementary school. $60+ million off of $280+ million is a lot more than 2%.

  11. lisa says:

    I remember that once upon a time, proceeds from the Minnesota State Lottery were to be used to support our environmental resources. Where is that money currently allocated?

  12. Sheryl says:

    What happened to Lottery money funding our parks????

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