WASHINGTON— Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today announced that fiscal year 2014 funding for the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program will occur this year despite the fact that it was left out of the current omnibus appropriations bill being considered this week by Congress.
Bishop, who serves as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, made the announcement after an emergency meeting held today with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA), and members of the Congressional Western Caucus to discuss the path forward for Fiscal Year 2014 PILT funding.
“Many of us were given early assurances that PILT would be funded in the omnibus bill. Since learning last night that this would not be the case, I have joined with House colleagues from across the country to find a solution. The problem is that in 2008 PILT was unwisely removed from the appropriations process and funded by TARP, a source of revenue that has since expired. Now we are in a situation where we have to find a new funding source for PILT. We were pleased today to hear that Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor have pledged their support to ensure that qualifying counties receive 2014 funds. While many ideas are being considered we are confident that we can find an appropriate legislative path for the measure. This latest illustration of Washington, D.C. instability further fuels the need to reassess current federal land ownership and emphasizes the importance of transferring more power and management of these resources to the states. Moving forward, we must fix the problem created in 2008 and determine a solid process that will ensure regular funding in the future. This is a discussion that I plan to lead over 2014 and beyond,” said Congressman Bishop.
Counties with federal land in their jurisdictions are denied tax revenues typical of communities with privately owned land. The diminished tax base hinders rural communities from fulfilling some of their most basic functions. In some counties, 90% or more of the land is federally owned. The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program helps offset the loss of these important revenues and fulfill the federal government’s obligation to local communities where swaths of federal land exist.