Simpson Urges Full Funding of PILT SRS for FY2015
Washington, October 15, 2014
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined a number of western colleagues in urging House leadership to secure full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) programs for fiscal year 2015. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Simpson and others urged that the federal government fulfill its responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal land by fully funding both programs.
Legislation authorizing full funding of PILT expired at the end of September. The letter reads: “While it must be our ultimate goal to enact a long-term, sustainable solution to eliminate the ongoing uncertainty our counties face [while Congress authorizes these programs on a year-to-year basis], an extension and full-funding of these programs is essential to address immediate needs…Without congressional action, we risk severely crippling these counties’ ability to operate.
“Equally important is the funding that more than 700 forest counties and school districts receive through SRS. These payments honor the over 100 year old contract between the federal government and counties housing the 193 million acres of National Forest land. Due to extremely low productivity on the federal forests over the past two decades, these funds are more critical to counties’ well-being than ever. ”
Simpson has been a long-time advocate for extending the existing mandatory authorization of PILT. “PILT is the equivalent of the federal government paying the property taxes it owes to the counties where it owns land. If we fail to fully fund the government’s obligations under PILT, the federal government is essentially failing to pay its taxes and fulfill its commitments to counties throughout Idaho and the West. As a result, many counties—especially those with a large percentage of federal land—will be unable to provide essential services. These counties know that PILT is not an optional ‘nice to have’ but critical to their ability to serve their communities.”
The letter was signed by 41 members and delivered to House leadership on October 15, 2014.