Heinrich, Luján Request Full Funding For PILT Program, Certainty For Rural Budgets

PILT provide essential funding to support schools, roads, first responders, and crucial services in rural communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in urging U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, to fully fund the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year (FY) 2022.

PILT funding is used by local governments across New Mexico to provide crucial services to residents, such as public safety, fire protection, emergency response, road maintenance, and more. New Mexico counties received over $41 million in PILT in FY2020.

“Without full funding for the PILT program, counties across the nation will be unable to provide essential services such as law enforcement, education, search and rescue, road maintenance and public health to their residents and millions of visitors to our public lands,” wrote the senators. “Moving forward, we look forward to working with you to enact a fiscally responsible, long-term solution to fully fund PILT and eliminate the uncertainty that counties face each year. As cash strapped counties across the country work to address budget cuts exacerbated by the pandemic, full-funding and a long-term solution for PILT is essential to provide certainty that the federal government will continue to uphold its long-standing commitment to public lands counties.”

PILT funding is critical for communities in New Mexico and across the country that use these funds for essential services like infrastructure maintenance and law enforcement. Across the country, PILT 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.

As communities continue to rebuild in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding is needed now more than ever. Senators Heinrich and Luján will continue working toward a long-term solution for PILT that will provide counties and local governments sustained funding and more predictability.

The letter, led by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), was also signed by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Read the full text of the letter below or by clicking here.

Dear Chairman Leahy and Vice Chairman Shelby:

As Members of Congress representing counties with federal public lands within their boundaries, we write to request that you work to ensure the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program is fully funded in fiscal year (FY) 2022.

PILT provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states to offset lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions. It supports the many critical services that counties provide on federal public lands. Without full funding for the PILT program, counties across the nation will be unable to provide essential services such as law enforcement, education, search and rescue, road maintenance and public health to their residents and millions of visitors to our public lands.

Moving forward, we look forward to working with you to enact a fiscally responsible, long-term solution to fully fund PILT and eliminate the uncertainty that counties face each year. As cash strapped counties across the country work to address budget cuts exacerbated by the pandemic, full-funding and a long-term solution for PILT is essential to provide certainty that the federal government will continue to uphold its long-standing commitment to public lands counties.

We look forward to working with you and other Congressional leaders to resolve this pressing issue facing our communities by fully funding PILT in FY 2022 and ensuring long-term predictable funding for this important program.

Sincerely,