Colorado Pressure Pays Off: PILT Included in Farm BillJanuary 27, 2014
Bennet Serves on Farm Bill Conference Committee
Udall, Bennet Led Bipartisan Effort to Restore Program Vital to Colorado Counties
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall heralded the inclusion of an extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in the Farm Bill conference report.
Bennet, a member of the Farm Bill conference committee, helped negotiate the final bill. Bennet and Udall led a bipartisan push to extend the program after it was left out of the budget passed earlier this month.
“Rural communities in Colorado and across the country rely on these critical resources to provide basic services like police and fire protection, and road maintenance,” Bennet said. “This extension means they can move forward with their budget and plan for the rest of this year. At the same time, we need to provide more certainty for these communities in the long term rather than force them to wonder year to year whether Washington will live up to its end of the bargain.”
“Rural Colorado and communities across the West need Congress to stand up and fully fund the PILT program. I have been proud to lead this bipartisan push to include PILT in the Farm Bill and to find a longer-term solution,” Udall said. “PILT funds are essential to protecting our way of life throughout Colorado. This is a major victory, but I will keep fighting to fully fund the PILT program past 2014 and remove these funds from the annual uncertainty of the federal budget process.”
The PILT program provides federal payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal land within their boundaries. These resources help pay for critical services like search and rescue operations, road maintenance, and fire protection.
Bennet, who serves as a member of the Farm Bill conference committee, and Udall have been strong advocates for fully funding the PILT program. They have actively pushed essential Senate committees to prioritize PILT funding, and in 2012 the senators led the fight in support of PILT and the Secure Rural Schools funding, which was secured in the transportation bill.
Udall introduced bipartisan legislation earlier this month to permanently fund and authorize the PILT program. Bennet is an original cosponsor of the bill.
Bennet and a majority of members of the conference committee are expected to sign the conference report and send it to be introduced to the House of Representatives as early as today.