Considering myself a hard-core political junkie, I was quite surprised to hear about a new-to-me federal program that has become part of the budget debate in Washington, DC. It's called PILT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) and helps tax districts around the country with direct payments to counties that fund many of their governmental activities and responsibilities.
The program kinda makes sense and helps explain the fact that many Red States Take more in federal funds than their resident Makers make or send to DC in the form of taxes.
Here's more on PILT if that didn't make sense.
And now, as we progress through another harmful and cynical budget debate, we find relentless Republican attacks on government, on the citizenry, and even on their fellow Republicans just keep on coming: PILT payments have been eliminated in the latest budget agreement that is supposed to take us through the next year or two of budgets:
First established in 1976, the program has doled out more than $6 billion to small counties where the federal government owns big chunks of land. Today, more than 1,900 counties receive at least some PILT funding; Rhode Island is the only state that doesn’t receive any PILT money.That's some nice, strings-free, Federal guvmint cash headed out to a lot of little guys running your local DMV, registrar, public health and safety, and other government functions.
Counties in California received $41 million in federal PILT funds last year, and counties in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah all received more than $30 million. Alaska boroughs and counties in Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming all received more than $20 million in federal funds.
But deficit hawk Republicans, winning another budget battle, seem bent on cutting these important payments that will hurt localities run by Democrat and Republican alike, and Republicans at both the local and national levels insist on taking those federal government payments from all those Makers sending their hard-earned tax dollars to DC every April 15:
Congress’ broad new spending plan includes no cash to compensate rural counties with federal lands, leaving Western lawmakers scrambling to save the long-standing program before the money dries up in June.Tasty: free federal money going to all those Red Counties in Red Utah. Who's taking now?
The payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program, known as PILT, annually divvies up more than $400 million among counties that have some public lands, the argument being those lands leave communities with a diminished tax base. Every state but Rhode Island gets some of the money. Utah received $35.4 million in PILT funding in 2013, second most in the nation behind only California.
"Oh boy," said Kane County Commissioner Jim Matson when told Tuesday his county may get zilch from the program. PILT makes up a little more than $1 million of the county’s $7.9 million budget and the loss could have a big impact. Some 90 percent of the county is federal land.Well, Jim, I guess a Real Republican would say suck it up and take some responsibility for your own law enforcement priorities. Commissioner Matson hesitated only a little in giving himself and his 2 Republican peers a nice 85% raise, probably paid for with federal funds.
"If it becomes permanent, eventually we’d have to restructure all of Kane County governance," Matson said, noting the county provides law enforcement and emergency services to the public lands when needed. "Doggone it if we’re unable to [provide law enforcement services] because of a reduction in PILT, then the feds get to have it, and we have no confidence in that."
Utah's Republican Governor took his concerns to President Obama instead of Republicans Boehner, Ryan or Cantor - those driving the destructive cuts to government funding:
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, in Washington on Tuesday, said he spoke directly to President Barack Obama about the lack of PILT funding and how it impacts Western states.And here's Jason Chaffetz, just another Hypocritical Republican, advocating for those Lazy, Slacker Takers against America's Proud Makers:
"The fact that that’s not in the budget is a little bit disconcerting," Herbert, a former county commissioner, said.
House leaders worked to assuage the fears of Bishop and Utah Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart among other western Republicans in a meeting Tuesday afternoon.The solution is for Red States to keep Taking more money than they send to Washington in taxes. A perfect solution for hypocritical Republicans who only care about the budget when it goes to help the poor, feed the hungry, or when it involves direct cash payments to their elected officials and constituents.
Stewart, Chaffetz and others left confident that PILT will be funded in the immediate future. Bishop was surprised the budget bill didn’t take care of this issue, because its exclusion was enough for western lawmakers to threaten to vote against the broader bill.
"Any state with significant federal lands is greatly affected by this," said Chaffetz. "Leadership is assuring us that there is a solution."
Takers vs. Makers my ass....