Klobuchar, Smith and bipartisan group of 32 Senators request two-year reauthorization for PILT and SRS programs 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) and 30 of their Senate colleagues requested that any end-of-year legislation include at least a two-year reauthorization of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) programs.

Klobuchar and Smith said that because counties containing federal lands are unable to tax the property values or products derived from those lands, PILT and SRS payments are necessary to make up for lost revenue that goes to supporting essential local government services for rural counties and school districts.

“In 2018 alone Minnesota counties relied on more than $5.1 million in PILT and $8.1 million in SRS payments to make up for lost tax revenue from federal public lands,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesotans rely on these funds to support critical programs that improve schools, roads, and public safety. We must ensure that we extend this funding before the end of this year so that Minnesota communities know that they’ll have the resources to fund these important programs next year.”

“Minnesota counties need this important funding—particularly in St. Louis, Cook and Lake Counties—to continue supporting communities, schools and infrastructure investments,” Smith said. “The federal government has an obligation to support work at the local level, and by extending this vital funding we’re living up to that promise and doing what’s right for Minnesotans.”

In the letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senators wrote, “Congress has an obligation to ensure counties with large swaths of federally-owned, tax-exempt forests and rangelands can adequately provide essential services for their residents. As history has proved, without the certainty of these two critical programs, schools, libraries, and jails will close. The services counties continue to provide will see a reduction in staffing and resources. Roads will go unpaved and become unsafe. Mental health and physical health services will be scaled back and in some cases even ended. Fewer and fewer law enforcement officers will be forced to patrol larger and larger areas.

As we work to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our public lands provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, grazing opportunities, and wood fiber for local economies, a short-term reauthorization of at least two years is critical to provide fiscal certainty for counties containing federally-owned lands.”

A copy of the full letter can be found here.

For a detailed breakout of PILT funding for 2019 by Minnesota county click here.

For a detailed breakout of SRS funding for 2018 click here.