State tax coffers can use a boost. Any kind of boost.
And in 1989, one boost came in the form of $53 million in federal oil, gas and mineral royalties from federal leases - the third-highest amount of any state.According to figures released by the Minerals Management Service of the Department of the Interior, only New Mexico ($88.3 million) and Wyoming ($175.8 million) received more federal disbursements than did Utah.
Utah Indian tribes also received $21.1 million in royalties. Royalties paid on those resources from Indian lands are returned directly to tribal governments, said Michael Baugher, spokesman for the Minerals Management Service.
The amount received by individual states represents about 50 percent of all royalties and rents collected from oil, gas and mineral leases on federal lands. The balance goes into the federal treasury.
"We don't want to minimize any source of revenue to the state," said Mike Christensen of the state Office of Planning and Budget. "But in relation to the entire state budget (of almost $3 billion), it's not that significant."
Utah's primary sources of revenue are the sales tax and income tax ($667 million and $637 million, respectively, in 1989).
What is not reflected in the federal report is the number of jobs and income taxes resulting from natural resource production, the amount of state and local taxes paid by such production, and the related effect of such production on other businesses.
According to Christensen, revenue from federal leases and natural-resource production has played a less significant role in the state budget in recent years. "There was a time when it (revenue from natural-resource production) was critical," he said.
"Now our growth areas are in service and manufacturing, not natural resources. And the fact of the matter is coal and oil are not the labor- intensive industries they used to be. When we have a downturn in those markets, the job losses aren't what they used to be."
Much of the federal money is distributed to local communities impacted by natural resource production.
Of every $100 in royalties from all federal lands, $12 came from those in Utah. More than $437.6 million was distributed to 27 states in 1989.