September 16, 2008

Senate Committee Agrees to Tax Package with County Payments Extension

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced today that a package of tax cut extenders that includes multi-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 has been agreed upon in the Senate Committee on Finance, a committee of which he is a member. The bill would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program, commonly known as the "county payments law" through 2011, while fully funding the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for 2009 thanks to an amendment authored by Wyden.

Wyden asked for a four-year extension of the county payments program and approximately $3.3 billion in funding is provided for that period. The energy tax package could be on the floor of the Senate for consideration as early as this Friday.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, originally authored by Wyden and U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) established a six-year payment formula for counties that receive revenue sharing payments from the United States Forestry Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Based on historical timber receipts, the formula established a stable source of revenue to be used for education, roads and various other county services in rural areas. Over 700 counties in 39 states have received funding under the original country payments law, which was allowed to expire in September 2006.

Last year by a vote of 74 to 23 the Senate approved a Wyden-authored multi-year extension of the county payments law as part of the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill; however after negotiations with the House of Representatives, the law was only extended for one year.