State Trust Lands:
NOW: forest, historical and preservation funds
Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: SB1118
Sponsor: Yarbrough, McComish
Legislative Session: 2012 Legislative Session
SB1118 NOW: forest, historical and preservation funds (Yarbrough, McComish) swipes the remaining dollars in the Land Conservation Fund, including both the conservation donation account and the public conservation account, and diverts them to the Centennial Fund for state historical and cultural resources and to the forest restoration and treatment trust fund. While these may be worthy causes, this bill is unconstitutional and it will harm both conservation and education.
By diverting dollars from this fund, the Legislature hurts both conservation efforts and education dollars from the Land Conservation Fund go into the Trust to benefit the Trust beneficiaries. The primary beneficiary is public education.
To see how House Members voted, click on SB1118 Vote.
Sandy Bahr at 602-253-8633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Land Conservation Fund was created as part of the Growing Smarter Act (Proposition 303), which was referred to the ballot by the Arizona Legislature in May of 1998 and passed by Arizona voters in November 1998. Proposition 303 established $20 million per year, for eleven years, to buy or lease State Trust Lands for conservation. These dollars are voter protected. Just because there will be no future appropriations, does not mean the purpose of the remaining dollars goes away. Raiding this fund for forestry does not further the purposes of this fund.
The Legislature has attempted to raid this fund before, but in the past has always recognized that it was voter protected. For example, in 2010, the legislature attempted to pass HB2060 public conservation monies; transfer (Nichols). It would have diverted $40 million from the Public Conservation Account in the Land Conservation Fund for state parks and historical societies. While the bill did not further the purpose of the land conservation fund and was therefore unconstitutional, it did include recognition that a three-fourths vote was needed. Why is the legislature now trying to say that the voter protection provisions of the Arizona Constitution do not apply at all?
In 2010 the Legislature also attempted to raid the Land Conservation Fund when it referred Proposition 301 to the ballot. The voters defeated that measure 74%-26%. It is quite clear that the voters reiterated how they would like that money spent on land conservation.
This strike-everything amendment demonstrates why the Voter Protection Act is needed more than ever. The strike-everything amendment is contrary to the Arizona Constitution as it in no way furthers the purposes of the Growing Smarter measure that went before the voters in 1998 and that was affirmed by voters in 2010 with the defeat of Proposition 301.