In a ceremony Tuesday, June 17 at the Utah State Capitol, Governor Gary R. Herbert signed two bills, HCR4 and HB 168 in support of the growth and future management of Utah’s $1.87 billion Permanent State School Fund, a trust fund belonging to every K-12 public school student in Utah.
Representative Mel Brown, chief sponsor of the bills, along with other co-sponsoring legislators, members of the Utah Board of Education, the Utah PTA and UEA, Utah State University, and other beneficiaries of Utah’s 3.4 million acres of trust lands were in attendance.
Governor Herbert signed HCR4 Concurrent Resolution Marking 20 Years of SITLA, recognizing the success of the SITLA business model, which is often referenced in the debate over state versus federal land ownership.
“Unlike development on federal lands, all royalties and revenues generated on school trust lands stay in Utah,” said Director Kevin Carter. “Managing just 6% of land in Utah, SITLA has generated $1.4 billion in revenue from trust lands over the last 20 years, at no cost to taxpayers.”
The $1.4 billion was generated from a diverse real estate portfolio that includes: oil and gas development; renewable energy projects; coal and hard rock mining; and other commercial leasing, sales, and real estate development activities.
SITLA has contributed $1.3 billion to the Permanent School Fund, which has grown to $1.87 billion. The model initiated in 1994 by the legislature has allowed Utah to grow its permanent fund at a percentage rate higher than other states with similar land grants. An impressive $300 million in interest and dividends from this fund have been distributed by the School LAND Trust Program to individual schools through their school community councils. Utah’s public schools received $37.4 million from the trust in the 2013-14 school year.
The governor also signed HB 168, School and Institutional Trust Lands and Funds Management Provisions, which establishes the School and Institutional Trust Fund Office, along with a board of trustees and a director of the office, to oversee management of the $1.87 billion Permanent School Fund and funds attributed to 11 other beneficiaries.
“Thanks to 20 years of careful land management by SITLA and astute financial management by the State Treasurer’s Office, the size of the Permanent State School Fund and other institutional trust funds has grown to nearly $2 billion,” said Tim Donaldson, School Children’s Trust Director with the Utah Board of Education. “This is an exciting time as we reflect on where this trust has come in the past 20 years, and where we are going in the future, in making sure the school trust becomes an increasingly relevant part of the school funding picture.”
Over the past 20 years, the Trust Lands Administration has contributed more than $110 million to these other land grant beneficiaries, beyond public schools:
$42.6 million Miners Hospital at the University of Utah Medical Center
$18.8 million Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
$14.7 million University of Utah
$9.6 million Division of Water Resources
$5.4 million Utah State University
$4.5 million Division of Facilities Construction and Management
$4.5 million College of Mines at the University of Utah
$4.4 million Utah State Hospital
$1.3 million Division of Juvenile Justice Services
$5 million Colleges of Education at the University of Utah, Dixie State University, Southern Utah University, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, and Weber State University
In addition to supporting public schools and state institutions, SITLA has helped protect and preserve more than 540,000 acres in Utah, an area equivalent to the combined acreage of Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks.