Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) joined a group of Western senators in introducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program to provide long-term financial security for rural counties.
The legislation would reauthorize the PILT program for ten years. The program provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states. Counties have used these payments for more than 40 years to fund law enforcement, firefighting, emergency response, and other essential county services.
“PILT funding is critical for communities across Colorado that use these funds for essential services like infrastructure maintenance and law enforcement,” said Bennet. “This legislation is a common sense step to reauthorize the program, so that we can continue to fully fund PILT and meet the needs of our counties. We will continue to work toward a long-term solution for PILT that will provide counties and local governments sustained funding and more predictability.”
“The PILT program is an important resource for many counties in Colorado and across the country with large amounts of non-taxable federal land,” said Gardner. “It’s important that Congress fully funds this program, which is used for critical services like law enforcement and infrastructure investments.”
Bennet and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) lead an annual bipartisan letter, co-signed by Gardner, to the Senate Committee on Appropriations calling for full funding for PILT in the upcoming spending legislation. In previous years, Bennet and Gardner have also called for full funding of the PILT program in end-of-year legislation. In addition to Bennet and Gardner, cosponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Jim Risch (R-ID).
“PILT funding is absolutely critical for rural counties in Colorado, and we applaud Senators Bennet and Gardner for working together to ensure that essential local government services in these communities are not impacted,” said Commissioner Mark Roeber, Delta County Commissioner and President of Colorado Counties, Inc.
“In 61 percent of the nation’s counties, the federal government is a major landowner. Counties provide critical services for residents and visitors in and around untaxable federal public lands, including roads, bridges, search and rescue, law enforcement and solid waste disposal. The PILT program represents the federal government’s commitment to these and many other services. This bill ensures the long-term certainty we need, instead of being susceptible to the whims of unpredictable federal funding and shifting the burden to local taxpayers and businesses. We applaud and thank Senators Wyden, Crapo, Merkley, Risch, Bennet and Gardner for working to establish a decade of stability for the PILT program. We urge Congress to fulfill its promise to public lands counties and swiftly pass this legislation,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties.
A copy of the bill text is available HERE.