Congressman Tipton looks to turn oil, gas taxes into education funds

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. With the rejection of Amendment 66, a local lawmaker is searching for other alternatives to get more cash into classrooms.

"We’re looking at an out-of the box method to achieve that without increasing taxes, to be able to create jobs, to be able to give local control to how those dollars are going to be spent," said Congressman Scott Tipton.

Tipton proposed the Education and Energy Act of 2013, which would use a portion of the federal revenue from new mineral leases from oil and gas drilling on public lands for education funding.

"It's actually a win, win, win in terms of job creation, in terms of energy security for our country and providing tax dollars through royalties without increasing tax dollars on individual Americans," Tipton said.

States with oil and gas development, such as Colorado, would receive 33% of the new revenue and states without the industry would receive 17%. The state would then decide without federal regulation how to distribute the money to school districts.

The Bureau of Land Management collects the mineral lease taxes from oil and gas businesses on their lands. That money gets split evenly between the state and federal government.

"In 2012, the 4.2 million acres that were under federal lease generated about 150 million dollars to the state of Colorado," said Chris Joyner, of the Bureau of Land Management.

Minerals on or under public land are taxed because they belong to the American people, Joyner said.

"They're the property of you and my neighbor and every taxpayer," he said.

Tipton said the bill is not likely to be brought to the floor until the start of the new year as Congress' agenda is filled with immigration and tax reform right now.

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