WASHINGTON – During a Committee on Energy and Natural Resources business meeting, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) championed Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) legislation and secured additional important revisions aimed at making these critical programs more timely and reliable.
The committee reported out S. 430, a bill to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and cosponsored by Risch, and S. 2108, the Small County PILT Parity Act, sponsored by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and cosponsored by Risch and Crapo.
The reliability of SRS and PILT payments has long been an issue that Risch has advocated on. Additionally, Risch worked with committee members to incorporate language into SRS to create a pilot program for Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) appointments to improve the timeliness of disbursement of funds as well as to discontinue the annual decrease in SRS payments.
“Idaho’s rural counties deserve stability and relief. They shouldn’t be subjected to the annual guessing game of whether they’ll be able to provide critical county services like road maintenance and education. Insufficient or delinquent SRS and PILT payments aren’t simply an inconvenience for these communities. It threatens their entire way of life,” said Risch. “Congress must support our rural communities and reauthorize SRS and PILT.”
“Idaho is almost two-thirds federally-owned, severely limiting our tax base for roads and schools because federal lands contribute no property taxes,” Crapo said. “These county payments programs are critical for Idahoans.”
Background: The SRS and PILT programs were created to provide long-term financial security for rural counties that are unable to collect taxes on federal land within their county boundaries. These two programs are of great importance to Idaho’s rural communities as more than 60 percent of Idaho’s land is federally managed. Over the years, SRS and PILT funding has become unreliable, creating acute financial hardship and uncertainty for Idaho’s rural counties and communities.
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