Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna released the following statement Wednesday in response to the Attorney General’s lawsuit filed against the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners.
“I question why the Attorney General is spending precious taxpayer dollars on this lawsuit rather than bringing forward a motion he thinks is constitutional for the Land Board to consider,” Superintendent Luna said.
The Idaho Land Board voted 3-2 earlier in March to increase cottage site lease rents by 54 percent over the next five years.
The motion was proposed by Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and approved by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Controller Donna Jones opposed the motion. No other motions were offered.
“I voted for a 54 percent increase in cottage site lease rents, which will ultimately maximize the financial return for the beneficiaries, Idaho students,” Superintendent Luna said after the vote on March 16. “A no vote would have been a vote for the status quo, resulting in no additional revenues for schools.”
The Land Board owns 521 cottage site properties on Payette and Priest Lakes and controls the rate on the leases. In February, the Land Board voted to give the Department of Lands one year to come up with a plan for disposing of cottage site properties in order to maximize revenues for the endowment beneficiaries, Idaho’s public schools.
Superintendent Luna supported this measure in February. Instead of continuing to debate whether the endowment should be getting a 2.5%, 4% or 6% rate of return on these assets, Superintendent Luna supports selling the cottage site properties and using the money to invest in assets that yield higher returns. The endowments would yield a return of at least 8% if these high-value properties were sold and the proceeds used to purchase commercial or other high-return properties.
~ Melissa M.