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Senate Introduces the County Payments Reauthorization Act of 2011

Posted Date: 
October 17, 2011
Ryan R. Yates, Associate Legislative Director, NACo

On October 12, 2011, a Bipartisan group of Senators introduced the County Payments Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1692). The Act would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program and fund the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Act for five more years. The bipartisan agreement, announced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) represents a strong commitment from the United States Senate to support key programs critical to nearly 2,000 counties nationwide.

The Act would provide more than $1.5 billion in SRS funding to roughly 700 counties with national forest lands to support public schools, county road improvement and maintenance projects, forestry projects, and wildfire risk reduction programs. It also would extend funding under the PILT program to more than 1,900 counties in 49 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help fund essential county government programs.

Payments in lieu of taxes, often called PILT, are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to federal lands within their boundaries. NACo worked to raise the profile of the critical need to reauthorize these programs over the past several years, including a successful PILT fly-in in early September 2011.

While NACo supports the Senate’s efforts to reauthorize the SRS program, it is important to recognize that the funding levels and annual 5 percent rampdown offered in the proposal will present continued challenges to a number of forested counties. NACo will continue to work closely with members of Congress to address job creation and forest management legislation to provide a long term solution to providing sustainable revenue sharing with forested counties. NACo believes that a straight reauthorization is only part of the solution and pursuing management and restoration of the nation’s forests will generate tremendous environmental and social benefits and create needed jobs and revenue for rural economies.

Please click here to view the NACo letter to Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Murkowski. Currently, 25 members of the United States Senate have cosponsored the legislation (see below). NACo members should strongly encourage their Senators to sign onto the bill.

Senator(s) Bingaman, Murkowski, Baucus, Crapo, Wyden, Risch, Reid, Cochran, Tester, Blunt, Feinstein, Heller, Tom Udall, Boxer, Cantwell, Murray, Bennet, Merkley, Sanders, Tim Johnson, Begich, McCaskill, Mark Udall, Levin, and Franken.

Ryan R. Yates, Associate Legislative Director, NACo | | (202) 942-4207