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Posts tagged: timber revenue

Crapo, Risch co-sponsor bipartisan bill to extend rural county payments

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are introducing compromise legislation with a bipartisan group of senators to continue funding for the Secure Rural Schools program and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for the next five years. Among the other original co-sponsors: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada; Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, and Lisa Murkowski, R–Alaska, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, chairman of that panel's Public Lands Subcommittee. The new legislation comes as payments to timber-dependent rural counties - including many in Idaho - face expiration, with the end of what formerly was known as the Craig-Wyden program to make up for lost timber revenues to those communities.

“For years, our counties have been impacted by losses in timber and tax revenues on federal lands,” Crapo said.  “The federal government has a responsibility to be a good neighbor to these counties – they have already lost substantial funding for schools, roads and other essential services.” Risch said, “In many of our counties, the federal government is the majority landowner.  When these large tracts of land are locked up by changing policies, a greater portion of education and transportation costs are pushed on to private property owners.  As a landowner, the federal government has a responsibility to help shoulder that burden.”

Both senators acknowledged that the legislation is a short-term, rather than long-term solution to the county payments issue; in a joint statement, they also said, “While this funding is a top priority, it must also be paid for by finding bipartisan, responsible offsets without raising taxes.” Thus, the proposed legislation is just a “first step” to more discussions in Congress. You can read their full joint news release here, and click below for an AP story on the bill.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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