Keep Feds Out Of State School Trust Land Deals

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(Last month) I attended a fund-raising event in Phoenix. One of the introductory speakers was Sen. Jon Kyl, and he made an impromptu impassioned appeal, that to me, was the most important part of the event.

Sen. Kyl pointed out that Secretary Bruce Babbitt is currently touring Arizona, making an all-out media campaign for his proposed land exchange. Babbitt has, for years, wanted to put large areas of the Arizona State School Trust land under federal control. Since this is probably his last year in office as Secretary of the Interior, he is trying to put intense pressure on Governor Hull to accede to his proposed land trades, right now.

Many of us do not believe that his proposed land trades are really good for the people of the U.S., let alone the people of Arizona. However, that is not the really important point.

The key issue is that Babbitt's proposed trades are not good for the future of the school system of Arizona. The Arizona Constitution wisely has only one objective for the use and/or disposal of State School Trust lands: Get the most money possible for the State School System. That is exactly what Gov. Hull is trying to do, in her negotiations with the federal government.

There are powerful interest groups, both in Arizona and Washington, D.C., who believe that there are overriding considerations for certain State Trust lands that are more important than money for Arizona's schools. Secretary Babbitt is one of these believers.

Apparently he has no real concern for the school system. His proposal even according to the Arizona Republic equates to trading $60 million of federal land for $700 million of State Trust lands.

Sen. Kyl made it clear that all Arizona citizens, who are interested in the future of our schools, should rally behind Gov. Hull and support her in any way that we can.

Dan Adams

Payson

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