Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined 94 colleagues in urging House leadership to secure full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Simpson and others urged the federal government to fulfill its responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal land by fully funding both programs.
“Last year’s Omnibus spending bill was critical in preserving funding for PILT at levels that keep up with the needs of communities across Idaho,” said Simpson. “If Congress doesn’t act again this year, then counties are strapped with the uncertainty of how they will pay for essential services. I am committed to making sure that Congress does its job and honors the commitments to counties with large percentages of federal land.”
Congressman Simpson also signed a letter to House leadership advocating for an extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) program. In 2015, Congress enacted a two-year extension of the SRS program which, similar to PILT, provides an alternative source of education funding for counties with a high percentage of national forests. This program also fulfills the federal government’s responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal lands.
The bipartisan coalition of 52 Members of Congress wrote that, “the SRS program continues to be a critical safety net for forest counties…We stand ready to work with you in support of this important program.”
Congressman Simpson has been a long-time advocate for PILT, ensuring full funding was provided for the program when he chaired the House Interior and Environment subcommittee. In July, he supported the fiscal year 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill which passed the House of Representatives and included full funding for PILT.
“While I would prefer a long-term solution to both PILT and SRS, I support immediate and necessary funding for both programs,” said Simpson.
Both letters were delivered to House leadership in the last week.