Bishop-Hatch Bill Expands Utah’s Tax Base To Support Public Education

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have introduced the Action Plan for Public Land and Education (APPLE) Act in the Senate [S. 1524] and U.S. House of Representatives [H.R. 2852]. This legislation would help Utah and other Western states address education funding shortages created largely by abundant federal land holdings throughout the West.

States cannot tax public lands held by the federal government and therefore cannot produce revenue from them necessary to support education. As a result, many western states with significant amounts of federal land continue to struggle to adequately fund education.

“Like many states, Utah’s education system relies on tax revenues for funding each year. However, due to the overwhelming presence of federal land in the state, there is a significant lack of tax revenue that could otherwise be generated if this land was not locked up by the feds. The better and long-term solution is to empower states to generate that revenue by giving them the lands the federal government promised in the first place, when western states joined the Union,” said Congressman Bishop. “The education of our children should not be held hostage by the burdensome presence of federal land in our state. The APPLE Act would help ensure that Utah and other western states receive the necessary funding to provide all children with the highest educational opportunities.”

“Funding for Utah’s education system has historically been hampered by the presence of a large portion of public lands owned by the federal government,” stated Senator Hatch. “The APPLE Act would allow Utah, and other western states impacted by federal land ownership to identify five percent of its federal lands and transfer these lands to state control to be used to help fund education. This would be a significant source of revenue for Utah’s schools and a major step forward in ensuring our children continue to have a bright educational future.”

Specifically, the APPLE Act would authorize western states to select five percent of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands within their state to be sold or leased, with the generated revenue dedicated solely to public education. Wilderness areas designated by Congress, trust lands, National Historic Sites or lands located within a military reservation area are excluded from lands that may be selected by the States.

Did you know that:

  • The federal government currently owns roughly 660 million acres in the United States.
  • Nearly one out of every two acres in the West is owned and controlled by the federal government.
  • Over 90% of all federal land is located in the West.
  • An area larger than the size of Florida has been added to the federal estate since John. F. Kennedy was president.
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