The ongoing claim and emotional argument that state management of land will destroy the environment and close access to parks and woodlands is ideological fiction and is intellectually dishonest.
The most recent hyperbolic claim came from a letter writer to the Star who said, “It’s time to sound the alarm for what many fear will be an environmental disaster in Arizona. GOP candidates called for the privatization of public lands.”
The truth is, no such call has been made. In fact, a simple plan would have the state work with the Bureau of Land Management to have lands in Arizona managed by Arizonans, without any change in current land use. What most Arizonans do not know is that the BLM collects fees for a wide range of land uses, from power lines that carry electricity to our cities, to grazing leases for sheep and cattle.
The fees BLM collects go to Washington, D.C., not to the Arizona General Fund or the Arizona Land Trust, both sources of K-12 and higher-education funding. The revenues generated by BLM land management should be going to public education.
Leave it to the left to resort to a straw-man argument to avoid the discussion about growing the tax base instead of growing tax rates. The claim that “tax loopholes,” also a straw-man argument, are somehow at fault for low education funding has no foundation. Government doesn’t give anyone a “tax break.” Through policy, government just takes less of what people earn. The evidence of this fact and the results of the policy of prosperity are proven out with the 7.5 percent economic growth that Arizona has experienced over the last year.
We all want to see more funding for education. Sound tax policy that puts people to work and makes companies more profitable drives increased tax revenue, and that is exactly what we have seen in Arizona over the last four years. That may challenge the narrative of crisis and catastrophe, but it is the truth. When we keep the revenues generated in Arizona for Arizona, education wins and so do taxpayers.
Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan, in their Divided Lands study, found that Arizona and three other Western states “earn an average of $14.51 for every dollar spent on state trust land management. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management generate only 73 cents in return for every dollar spent on federal land management.”
Capture of the lost economic opportunity cost from poor federal management is rational and could, once and for all, resolve the need for increased Arizona education funding by adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the state treasury.