Bennet Introduces Bill to Extend SRS, PILT Programs

Bill Would Restore PILT to Mandatory Funding, Extend Secure Rural Schools Program for Three Years

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) today to introduce a bipartisan bill to restore mandatory funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. It would also renew the Secure Rural Schools program, which supports schools, law-enforcement and roads in more than 700 rural counties across the country. Colorado counties received $34.5 million in PILT funds in fiscal year 2014.

"PILT provides crucial resources to counties to help deliver basic services to Colorado communities," Bennet said. "Restoring PILT to mandatory funding and extending Secure Rural Schools funding will give our rural communities the certainty they need to plan and budget for things like school construction, police and fire protection, and road maintenance. There is no reason for Congress to leave them in limbo every year, and this bill will help fix that."

The bill would restore mandatory funding for the PILT program, which compensates counties that contain federal lands. It would also extend the Secure Rural Schools program for three years at 2011 funding levels, rolling back years of declining payments. It would provide a total of roughly $360 million annually for more than 700 counties across the U.S.

Since coming to the Senate, Bennet has been a strong advocate for fully funding the PILT program. He actively pushed essential Senate committees to prioritize PILT funding, and in 2012, led the fight‎ in support of PILT and Secure Rural Schools funding. He also cosponsored a bill to permanently fund and authorize the PILT program.

Payment-In-Lieu of Taxes: The program provides federal payments to local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal land within their boundaries. Communities can use PILT resources for critical services, such as police, fire protection and emergency response programs.

Secure Rural Schools: The program provides resources for public schools, road improvement and maintenance projects, and forest restoration and improvement projects in and around National Forests.

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