U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich joined a bipartisan coalition urging Senate leaders to fully fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) in any end-of-year legislation.
“Moving forward, we hope that we can work together to seek a long-term solution to provide a consistent and stable source of funding for the nation’s counties containing federal lands,” the lawmakers wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “As we approach the end of the 113th Congress, however, we urge you to consider the economic hardship and uncertainty that these counties will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding.”
PILT provides federal payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes because of nontaxable federal land within their boundaries, and these resources are critical to rural counties across the country, which use the funding to provide services, such as police, fire protection, and emergency response. The SRS program, which benefits rural counties near national forests, supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, and other county projects. Along with PILT, rural counties rely heavily on SRS to help provide essential services to residents.
Funding for both PILT and SRS has expired, and unless the programs are renewed, counties across the country will see major budget cuts. Annually, PILT and SRS combined provide more than $700 million to rural counties across the country.
The full text of the letter is available HERE: