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Chaffetz Continues to Fight for PILT Funding
A message from Rep. Chaffetz to rural county commissioners in Utah's third congressional district.
Historically, PILT was a discretionary program that was funded through the appropriations process. In 2008, Sen. Harry Reid persuaded Congress to move PILT from discretionary spending to mandatory spending with a five-year authorization using TARP funding as an offset. Consequently, PILT is not being funded in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill that was released last night because PILT, as a result of Sen. Reid's changes, is now a mandatory program and appropriations bills fund only discretionary spending.
I want to assure you that I will continue to fight for PILT funding.
This afternoon, I met with Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Majority Whip McCarthy and several members of Congress from western states including Rep. Bishop and Rep. Stewart. Leadership has promised to find a vehicle, such as the Farm Bill, to fund PILT. After discussing this with other members of Utah's congressional delegation, I am convinced that House and Senate leadership will appropriately fund PILT before the current funding expires.
I fully understand the importance of PILT funding, particularly to rural communities. According to the Census Bureau, property taxes accounted for 47% of local government general tax revenues nationwide in FY 2011. Since property taxes are a major source of funding local government services such as education, transportation, and public safety, the federal government has an obligation to compensate local governments for lands that it owns, especially in areas like rural Utah, where federal land ownership is significant.
Ultimately, the long-term solution to the PILT problem is the transfer of federal lands to the states, just as the federal government did many decades ago with states east of the Rockies.
I appreciate your service as elected officials, and I am fully committed to making sure that the federal government properly compensates local governments for land that it owns.