Ballot Update: Dilemma in Minnesota Pits Fairness Against Conservation

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This November Minnesota voters will be asked to approve a change to the state's constitution. If the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment is approved, Minnesota's constitution will be changed to increase the state sales tax by three-eighths of one-percent (from 6.5 to 6.875 percent). The new rate will begin on July 1, 2009 and expire in 2034. The sales tax rate increase will bring in an estimated $290 million a year for the next 25 years. Revenues generated will be divided among a variety of programs including: water quality, wildlife habitat, arts and culture, and parks and trails. Advocates of tax fairness may be torn about how to vote on this amendment given that sales taxes are regressive and take a larger share of income from low income folks than from the wealthy. It will be up to the voters to decide if clean lakes, conservation efforts, and environmental protection trump tax fairness in this particular situation

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