There goes the neighborhood.
House-Senate negotiators Monday night filed a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill. For many counties in the West it contains a major funding gap, according to Politico, no PILT — Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which since 1976 has been doled out to counties with large swaths of untaxed federal land. In Nevada, the money can amount to as much as 10 percent of a county’s total annual budget.
Apparently, PILT was traded away to make room for firefighting funds in the Interior Department and Forest Service, which result primarily from policies established by the Interior Department.
In 2013, Nevada got $23 million in PILT payments for its 56 million acres of federal land.
When those checks were cut, Harry Reid, Nevada’s senior senator and the powerful majority leader of the Senate, boasted:
“PILT payments have always been crucial for Nevada counties and local governments to provide essential services like education, emergency services, law enforcement, infrastructure and healthcare. At a time when unemployment continues to hurt our state’s economic growth, I am pleased this funding will help save and create so many jobs in these areas and I will continue to work to ensure our rural counties have access to these important funds.”
He also pointed out that the Interior Department collects about $14 billion in revenue annually from commercial activities on federal lands, such as oil and gas leasing, livestock grazing and timber harvesting. What he did not say was that the grand total of PILT dollars doled out nationwide was $400 million. That’s $35 sent to Washington for every $1 sent back as PILT.
Also, what the most powerful man in the Senate also did not say is that Nevada gets a paltry 41 cents per acre while neighboring states get double and triple that amount. Nor did he point out that PILT amounts to only $8.50 per Nevadan, less than Montana’s $26.37, less than Idaho’s $16.50 or Utah’s $12.40.
Parity has been reached. All the states, under the budget deal, will get the same — none.