(Phoenix, AZ – Dec. 7, 2015) – Today, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, State Representative Mark Finchem and members of the Arizona Legislature gathered at Wesley Bolin Plaza to request the transfer of federal lands to the State of Arizona for long term education funding.
“Regaining land that is rightfully ours would create a larger state land trust,” said Superintendent Douglas. “When the land is returned to our state, Arizonians can determine how to more effectively leverage the land’s value and better fund education.”
Revenue from the Arizona State land trust is primarily used to fund education and support schools throughout Arizona.
The federal government currently owns nearly half of land in Arizona and loses 27 cents for every dollar they spend on land management, a loss to the taxpayers of approximately $2 billion per year. States, on the other hand, generate on average $14.51 for every dollar they spend on managing public lands.
“There is absolutely no reason to waste all of this land when it could provide critical revenues for Arizona education,” Douglas said.
“When it comes to today’s western states, the federal government has refused to honor the same promise made and kept with all other states east of Colorado,” said Rep. Mark Finchem, R-11. “Our state has a proven track record of maximizing the land we do control, so it makes no sense to allow mismanagement of these resources.”
The request to transfer federal lands to the State of Arizona aligns with a provision of Douglas’s AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! plan that was publicly announced on Oct.1, 2015.
“We will work with Congressional members from Arizona and each of the western states to transfer title to all federal lands within the borders of the state―excluding Military Bases, Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, other needful Buildings, and Tribal Lands under treaty,” Douglas said.
Related: Lawmaker from Pinal wants to sue feds for land/Casa Grande Dispatch