A Utah lawmaker gave Idahoans a sliver of hope for finding more money for education without raising taxes.
Rep. Ken Ivory led the passage of a Utah law that demands the federal government give 20 million of acres of land to state control. He urged Idaho lawmakers to do the same and he presented an impassioned case to a joint gathering of House and Senate resource committee members on Monday afternoon.
“It’s time to have a difficult conversation with our governing partner. We’re in an economic situation and we still need to educate our children,” Ivory said.
The Utah bill sets a 2014 deadline for the federal government to yield control millions of acres, excluding lands that include national monuments or parks, wilderness areas or reservations.
More than 60 percent of Idaho land is owned by the federal government, which means Idaho cannot access minerals, manage resources or protect watersheds, timber and animals at the mercy of forest fires.
“The states can do a better job of managing lands than an absente centralized landlord that is broke. That’s just common sense,” Ivory said.
House Resources and Conservation Committee Chairman Lawerence Denney told the Associated Press that he expects to introduce similar legislation in coming weeks.
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Ivory said Idaho could manage the millions of acres for multiple use, including hunting, fishing, mining and grazing, with proceeds going to schools.
The blog by Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker has more details about a possible land acquisition by states.