U.S. Senators push an amendment for state funds | PostIndependent.com

U.S. Senators push an amendment for state funds

Phillip YatesPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON U.S. Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., on Wednesday co-sponsored an amendment to the federal governments proposed 2009 budget that would create a deficit neutral reserve fund to help reverse a reduction in payments states receive from federal mineral lease revenues.A statement from Salazars office said the amendment would create room in the 2009 budget for Congress to help repeal language that reduces the current share of revenues states receive from leases for energy and mineral extraction on federal lands by 2 percent. The reduction means states get 48 percent of the proceeds, and the federal government 52 percent.The 2 percent reduction measure was inserted into a $555-billion spending bill late last year at the request of the Bush Administration. Salazar voted for the bill, while Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., did not.Restoring funds that the Bush Administration is attempting to pilfer from our state is a primary goal of mine, Salazar said in the statement. This is an issue that goes beyond Colorado and impacts several states that depend on mineral leasing revenues. I have worked and will continue to work to equalize this split between the state and the federal government, and to ensure that Colorado receives its fair share of revenue.Earlier this year, Salazar, Reps. John Salazar, D-Manassa, and Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, submitted legislation that would restore the traditional 50-50 split between the federal government and the states from revenue generated from federal mineral leasing activity. Steve Wymer, a spokesman for Allard, said the amendment is not necessary and that the only thing necessary is for the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, of which Allard is the ranking Republican member, is to make sure that revenue split language is not again inserted into the 2009 budget.We could use (Salazars) support in convincing the (chairwoman) of that, Wymer said.The revenue-split change has raised concerns in places such as Garfield County, which leads the state in natural gas drilling and relies on mineral lease revenues to help deal with the impacts. The revenue-split change that was inserted into the $555-billion appropriations bill was only for the 2008 fiscal year. However, President Bushs budget for the governments 2009 fiscal year, submitted to Congress in early February, suggested extending the provision by another year, something Salazar hopes to prevent.The 2 percent taken away from states will be used by the Department of Interior in administering the revenue and royalty sharing program with the states. Had the provision been in the governments 2007 fiscal year, Colorado would have lost about $2.45 million.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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