Reader's view: Remember, mining supports Minnesota schools
In the battle between pro-mining and anti-mining groups, the issues always seem to be jobs and pollution. Forgotten, it seems, is another important issue. That issue is the Permanent School Trust Fund. This fund was created when Minnesota was granted statehood and is part of the Minnesota state constitution. The idea was to have a permanent fund to help public schools with funding, the payments based on a per-pupil formula for each public school district in Minnesota.
The mining and forest-products industries are the two major contributors to this fund. Mining payments come from mineral leasing and royalty payments to the state. Forest products, real estate contracts, and the sale of school trust lands also contribute to the fund. As an example, in 2015, mineral leasing and royalty payments accounted for $30.4 million, forest products $11.1 million, and real estate and land sales added another $1.6 million for a grand total of $43.3 million to the fund. As of the year 2015, the principal balance in the Permanent School Fund was $1 billion.
Mining is very important to Minnesota and always has been. With the coming development of copper nickel mining on the horizon, yet another stream of revenue will be added to the Permanent School Fund through royalties paid. Not only is it important that we support the existing taconite operations, it is just as important to support PolyMet and Twin Metals in northern Minnesota.
The proposed land withdrawal in the Superior National Forest that would place a moratorium on mining includes 95,000 acres of School Trust Lands. This would greatly reduce revenues for Minnesota schools. Our public schools need all the funding they can get.