(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the announcement by the Department of Interior that 38 local governments in Washington are receiving a total of $15,340,025 under the 2012 Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Last month, Senator Murray joined with several other Senators in sending a letter of support for extending funding for the program in surface transportation reauthorization legislation. PILT provides crucial payments to counties across the state. Without this funding, counties’ budgets were facing drastic cuts, and potential insolvency; and this extension will prevent layoffs for road crews, teachers, and other county workers across rural Washington.
“I am so pleased the Department of Interior has announced that Washington state communities will be receiving this critical support ,” said Senator Murray. “This is an important investment in our rural communities, and it will make a huge difference for our police officers, firefighters, and school teachers.”
PILT program eligibility is reserved for local governments (usually rural counties) that contain nontaxable federal lands and provide vital government services, such as public safety, housing, social services and transportation. These jurisdictions provide significant support for national parks, wildlife refuges and recreation areas throughout the year. PILT seeks to compensate them for their support and foregoing tax revenue from these federal lands. A full list of funding by county is at http://www.doi.gov/pilt.
The full text of the letter in support of PILT funding is below:
May 10, 2012
Dear Senate Conferees:
We write to respectfully request that you extend funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program in the surface transportation reauthorization legislation being considered in conference. There is broad support and urgency for extending funding for these programs, as evidenced by Senate Amendment 1825, passed as part of MAP-21 by a vote of 82 to 16, and the introduction of S. 1692 by 33 Republican and Democratic cosponsors. Extending funding for these programs also is strongly supported by counties, schools, and public land stakeholders from around the country.
The Secure Rural Schools (commonly referred to as the county payments program) and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs provide critical payments to thousands of counties across the nation. Notably, the Secure Rural Schools program expired last year, making its inclusion in this legislation critical. Without this funding, counties’ budgets are facing drastic cuts, and potential insolvency; and this legislation provides the last opportunity to pass an extension before layoffs take place and are made permanent for road crews, teachers, and other county workers across rural America.
The Secure Rural Schools program reflects the commitment that the U.S. government made to rural forest counties when it set aside 193 million acres of forest lands for the benefit of the entire nation. The PILT program also provides critical funding to more than 1,900 counties in 49 states and territories, making up for diminished tax revenues because of Federal land ownership. They help to fund essential services for the citizens of these rural communities and, in a time of serious economic downturn, create and maintain important family-wage jobs that stand to be lost. A significant portion of the funding received through these programs is spent on roads, including critical highway spending and road maintenance. Without these funds, maintenance on some roads will simply cease and road crews will lose their jobs.
Failure to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program in 2012 would have a devastating impact on our most rural and most economically depressed counties and school districts across the nation. It is projected that well over 11,000 jobs will be lost in the next year alone if it is not reauthorized. Furthermore, the loss of this critical funding will lead to U.S. businesses, primarily in rural America, to losing almost $1.37 billion in revenues, $188 million in tax receipts in 2012-13. Similarly, a reduction in PILT funding will also add to further layoffs in these rural communities, many of which are struggling the most in the economic downturn.
We urge you to extend funding for these critical programs in the transportation reauthorization legislation. Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this important request.