CRAPO VOTES TO EXTEND COUNTY PAYMENTS
Finance Committee bill now includes Secure Rural Schools language
Washington, DC - Idaho schools and counties would benefit from provisions added today to a renewable energy tax incentives bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee to be added to the Energy bill, H.R. 6, currently being debated by the U.S. Senate. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo joined with Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and other members of the Committee to amend a renewable energy tax incentive bill to extend payments under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, as well as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program.Although Crapo opposed potential tax and price increases the bill could create related to oil exploration, he worked with Wyden and other Senators from states with large amounts of federal land to include $2.4 billion in funding to extend for five years federal payments to counties affected by a drop-off in funding from timber sales on federal lands. Additionally, the amendment would provide $1.9 billion to fully fund the PILT program from 2008-2012. Earlier in the year, Crapo supported the inclusion of a similar extension of the Secure Rural Schools legislation as an amendment to the FY2007 Emergency Supplemental bill. The final Emergency Supplemental bill that was signed into law included an extension of county payments for FY2007, but it did not include the five-year reauthorization of county payments. This amendment would provide longer term security for counties through a multi-year extension. "This amendment offers a fair and stable formula to extend support for many counties in the Northwest, to ensure that rural communities would not have to forgo essential county services," Crapo said. "Congress needs to act this year to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools beyond the one-year fix, and passage of this amendment is a step in the right direction."Crapo successfully championed new tax credits for wind, solar and geothermal energy, as well as energy efficiency standards, alternative fuel and cellulosic ethanol provisions that were included in the final bill. He said he hopes the overall bill can be amended to strike the provisions that could drive up gas prices. The bill could reach the Senate floor this week as part of the debate over energy policy.# # #FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality on the county payment provision is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://src.senate.gov/radio/.