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The Good News
2014 October
Pg 3 - The Sunshine Express
An Historic Agreement
Secretary Jewell, Attorney General Holder
Announce $554 Million Settlement of Tribal
Trust Accounting and Management Lawsuit
Filed by Navajo Nation
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Attorney General Eric Holder
and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today
announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the
Navajo Nation regarding the U.S. government¡¯s
management of funds and natural resources that it
holds in trust for the Navajo Nation. The settlement
resolves a long-standing dispute, with some of the
claims dating back more than 50 years, and brings
to an end protracted litigation that has burdened
both the Navajo Nation and the United States.
Secretary Jewell joined Navajo Nation President
Ben Shelly, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs
Kevin Washburn, Acting Assistant Attorney General
for the Justice Department¡¯s Environment and Natu-
ral Resource Division Sam Hirsch, and numerous
tribal officials at a commemorative signing ceremo-
ny held in Window Rock, Arizona on September 26.
¡°This settlement reflects our continuing commit-
ment to upholding the federal trust responsibility to
Indian Country and to building strong, prosperous
and resilient tribal communities,¡± said Secretary
Jewell. ¡°The historic agreement strengthens the
government-to-government relationship between
the United States and the Navajo Nation, helps
restore a positive working relationship with the Na-
tion¡¯s leaders and empowers Navajo communities.
The landmark Cobell settlement and resolution of
80 other tribal trust management lawsuits under
President Obama has opened a new chapter in fed-
eral trust relations with tribes and individual Indian
¡°This historic agreement resolves a longstanding
dispute between the United States and the Na-
vajo Nation, including some claims that have been
sources of tension for generations,¡± said Attorney
General Holder. ¡°The Department of Justice has
made it a top priority to honor and foster the trust
relationship between the United States and Ameri-
can Indian tribes. This landmark resolution ends
protracted and burdensome litigation. It will provide
important resources to the Navajo Nation. And it
fairly and honorably resolves a legal conflict over
the accounting and management of tribal resourc-
es. This demonstrates the Justice Department¡¯s firm
commitment to strengthening our partnerships with
tribal nations -- so we can expand cooperation, em-
power sovereign tribes, and keep moving forward
together with mutual respect and shared purpose.¡±
¡°This historic settlement demonstrates how Presi-
dent Obama and his administration remain deeply
committed to the federal trust relationship and
improving the United States¡¯ relationship with the
tribes,¡± said Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn.
¡°The Bureau of Indian Affairs will work even more
closely with the Navajo Nation through improved
cooperation, consultation and communication to
ensure proper management and protection of its
trust funds and resources.¡±
The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian tribe
in the United States, with over 300,000 mem-
bers. The Nation has the largest reservation in
the United States, encompassing over 27,000
square miles of land in the states of Arizona,
New Mexico and Utah. The reservation includes
more than 14 million acres of trust lands, which
are leased for various productive uses, includ-
ing farming; grazing; oil, gas, and other mineral
development; businesses; rights-of-way; timber
harvesting; and housing. The Navajo Nation also
owns or has ownership interests in over 100
trust accounts.
Under the agreement, the United States will
pay the Navajo Nation $554 million in settle-
ment of its claims. In return, the Navajo Nation
will dismiss its current lawsuit and forego further
litigation regarding the United States¡¯ historic
management or accounting of Navajo funds or
resources held in the trust by the United States.
The Navajo Nation and the United States will
undertake prospectively information-sharing
procedures that will lead to improved communi-
cation concerning the management of Navajo¡¯s
trust funds and resources, and also the parties
will abide by alternative dispute resolution proce-
dures to reduce the likelihood of future litigation.
In addition to the negotiations that led to this
historic settlement with the Navajo Nation, the
Departments of Justice, the Interior, and the
Treasury have been diligently engaged in settle-
ment conversations involving other litigating
tribes. On April 11, 2012, the United States
announced settlements with 41 tribes for about
$1 billion. Since that time, the federal govern-
ment has focused considerable dedicated effort
on the remaining tribal trust accounting and
trust mismanagement cases and has been able
to resolve ¡°breach of trust¡± claims, without the
need for further extended litigation, of almost 40
additional tribes, for over $1.5 billion.
The United States will continue settlement
discussions in numerous other cases that are
still pending and is committed to resolving the
litigating tribes¡¯ trust accounting and trust mis-
management claims in a manner that is fair and
reasonable to the tribes and the United States.
Revenue Growth Continues
Sept. 22, 2014: The latest revenue forecast
shows continued growth with the state¡¯s General
Fund revenue expected to grow 7.4 percent in FY
2014-15 and 6.4 percent in FY 2015-16.
Projections show an increase of $80.9 million in
FY 2014-15, or 0.8 percent higher than compared
to the June 2014 forecast. Projections for FY
2015-16 are 1.3 percent, or $131 million higher.
¡°Colorado¡¯s economy continues to expand at a
pace that is among the best in the nation,¡± the
Office of State Planning and Budget reported to-
day. ¡°The state¡¯s concentration of individuals and
businesses focused on products that are in high
demand in today¡¯s economy continues to feed
economic growth. Colorado also benefits from
a high degree of business dynamism, as well as
a growing culture for innovation and collabora-
tion among individuals and firms. However, not
all parts of the state are experiencing the same
degree of economic strength.¡±
Income taxes from wage withholdings and sales
tax collections continue to grow at a solid pace
due to Colorado¡¯s economic expansion.
The state¡¯s General Fund reserve now is projected
to be $232.6 million above its required amount
for FY 2014-15.
The state is projected to end FY 2013-14 with
$235.8 million above its required amount based
on preliminary information from the State Con-
troller. All but $25 million of this money, which re-
mains in the General Fund, is allocated to various
cash funds, including $135.3 million to the Capital
Construction Fund. Several higher education capi-
tal construction projects will proceed as a result.
TABOR revenue is forecast to be $48 million, or
just 0.4 percent, below the Referendum C cap in
the current fiscal year, which is within the normal
range of possible forecast adjustments. TABOR
revenue is forecast to exceed the cap by $133.1
million in FY 2015-16 and $239.4 million in FY
2016-17, meaning that a refund to taxpayers is
required under this forecast, unless voters allow
the State to retain the revenue.
Many indicators point to a continued economic
expansion. A special set of unique circumstances,
however, could result in an economic slowdown.
Less accommodative monetary policy, current
weaker global economic conditions, as well as
continued geopolitical tensions, are concerns.