WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate approved an amendment by U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich Oct. 19 that directs Congress to fully and permanently fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which helps local governments in New Mexico and across the West pay for critical services like schools, police, and roads.
The amendment to the Republicans’ Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution passed 58 to 41 and was the only amendment offered by a Democrat to pass on a roll-call vote.
New Mexico is the third-highest recipient of PILT payments in the country, but PILT provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states and supports thousands of jobs across America, particularly in the rural West.
Despite the need to provide predictable funding for counties, Congress currently does not fund PILT on an automatic, permanent basis. Instead, Congress makes discretionary annual appropriations, creating uncertainty each year as communities wait to learn whether they will receive the funding that they rely on.
More information about PILT, including the formula that is used to determine how much each county will receive, is available here: https://www.doi.gov/pilt
“Rural communities across New Mexico shouldn’t have to wonder whether they will get the PILT funding they are owed – and that they rely on – to pay for basic services like public safety, schools, and roads. Last night, at a time when the Trump administration has proposed cutting funding for PILT, senators from both sides of the aisle showed that they understand the need for full and permanent funding for this essential program,” Udall said. “Last night’s vote was an important step forward that lays the groundwork for future congressional action to fully fund PILT in 2018 and beyond. As the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department’s budget, I will keep working to build on this important step and to provide the full resources that the PILT program needs to keep benefiting New Mexicans.”
“Long-term, predictable funding is tremendously important to rural counties across New Mexico,” Heinrich said. “Rural communities use PILT funds to provide for emergency response, maintain roads and bridges, and support local jobs. I am proud that we were successful in securing bipartisan support for permanently and fully funding PILT and will continue to fight to ensure counties have the economic security they need to succeed.”
Congressional budget resolutions are non-binding statements of budget priorities intended to lay the groundwork for future legislation and appropriations bills. In 2008, legislation was passed to authorize full, mandatory funding for the PILT program to ensure that this vital funding was not subject to annual discretionary decisions in appropriations legislation.
However, that legislation has since expired and PILT is now funded on a year-by-year basis. Senators Udall and Heinrich have supported stand-alone legislation to permanently set full, mandatory payments for PILT, a position supported by the National Association of Counties (NACo).