Tuesday, February 28, 2006

McAllister Fund Gets Attention

The LeRay McAllister Critical Land Preservation Fund was in the news Tuesday in a big way. Attention was given because of the proposed funding by the legislature. Initially proposed to be funded for $6 million this year, the latest legislative funding list shows it at $1 million.

Salt Lake businessman and former House Speaker Robert Garff presented an impassioned plea for support of the Fund in an opinion piece in the Deseret News. Writes Garff, "With our record $1 billion surplus, and a $9.6 billion state budget, surely $6 million can be found to fully fund projects that preserve our traditional farmlands, enhance our communities and protect our sources of drinking water."

When originally established, the McAllister Fund was to receive a regular source of income from some dedicated sources, amounting to somewhere near $6 million each year. But each year, the legislature has taken the money from those sources for other priorities and left the Fund woefully short. Garff notes "our neighboring states are investing millions in state and local funds for the protection of their lands and waters, including Nevada ($200 million), Colorado (over $200 million) and Arizona ($173 million). By contrast, on average, the Utah legislature has invested less than $2 million annually in the McAllister Fund."

The editorial in The Trib notes that "The McAllister Fund is just the kind of modest, fiscally conservative approach that Utahns are comfortable with. A $6 million effort every year for a couple of decades would add up to a lot. But like any savings program, you've got to contribute every year. Now's the time to start."

Anyone listening up there on the Hill?

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