Sep 18 2014
Today I attended a conference hosted by the National Association of Counties to discuss the importance and future of Payment in Lieu of Taxes funding. I appreciated the opportunity to speak to this group, so I could share my thoughts on how we can ensure that a dispropotionate share of the costs and burdens of federal land ownership aren't concentrated in counties with high levels of federal land.
Materials from the conference that highlight the problematic relationship bewteen PILT and federal lands
In my remarks to this group I identified several areas that we need to focus on as we work together to improve the PILT program and make it more reliable for the counties that rely on the federal government to keep its promise to offset the costs associated with high concentrations of federal land.
I emphasized that PILT is not an entitlement program. It is an affirmative obligation of the federal government. It must not be legislatively partnered with subsidies or other entitlements, because, as we have seen, PILT is being used as a politcal football. I will continue to work toward funding PILT as either a standalone bill or any other vehicle where Congress can focus on fully funding PILT with a long term bill that provides certainty to counties.
I also pointed out that the most important thing we need to focus on in improving the PILT program is to educate those who come from states with little federal land about the nature of this program. Every day I work to educate my colleagues about the unique challenges faced by states with high levels of public land. However, this education effort needs to be promoted by everyone who is concerned with the future of PILT. I am hopeful that those who attended this conference today will join me in this effort.