March 06, 2008

Crapo Advances County Payments In Budget Outline

Language assisting extension of payments part of FY 2009 Budget Resolution

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and others, have successfully inserted language into the coming year's federal budget blueprint to assist with an extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, commonly called county payments. Crapo's action means the Committee's Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution recognizes and provides budget flexibility to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 and make adjustments to the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.

Many rural communities in Idaho and other states are facing the very difficult potential of not having enough funds to meet school and roadway needs without an extension of the county payments program," Crapo said. "Members of Congress representing counties and communities caught in this situation are working aggressively to pursue all options to prevent the cut off of needed services. The inclusion of this Secure Rural Schools language is an important step that provides a placeholder in the budget, while the actual extension and funding continue to be pursued."

The budget reserve language gives committee chairs the flexibility to extend and fund the Secure Rural Schools Program while not increasing the federal debt. Crapo thanked Senator Ron Wyden and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) for including the reserve fund language in the Budget Resolution.

"Without an extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, rural communities in Idaho and other states are facing the reality of having to cut teacher positions and being unable to maintain miles of roadway," Crapo said. "This is unacceptable. Congress simply must act to provide this overdue extension as funding is critical to rural communities economically impacted by neighboring federal landownership."

Idaho county commissioners and representatives of the Idaho Association of Counties have been in Washington, DC, this week meeting with Crapo, who has briefed them on the budget developments.   The Budget Committee is expected to vote on final passage of the resolution later today.