Rep. Gosar Fights for Rural Arizona

Apr 4, 2014 Issues: Natural Resources

For Immediate Release
Date: April 4, 2014

 

Contact: Garrett Hawkins
Garrett.Hawkins@mail.house.gov

Rep. Gosar Fights for Rural Arizona

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) led two legislative efforts in support of programs critical to rural Arizona: the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).

"Either give us our land or give us our PILT," stated Rep. Gosar. "Since it frequently falls on our local governments to provide safety operations on federal lands, they should be reimbursed for performing this critical work. Likewise, if our local governments are incarcerating illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, the federal government should offset the cost."

Rep. Gosar's first effort requested that resources be prioritized for PILT in the Fiscal Year 2015 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. PILT was created to compensate local governments for large quantities of un-taxable federal lands within their jurisdiction. Local property and sales taxes typically fund county governments, allowing them to provide essential services. The inability for counties to collect local taxes on federal lands is particularly burdensome, especially when counties often provide critical services on these very lands. PILT funding is used by county governments to provide essential services like law enforcement, infrastructure and education needs.

Although there was a groundswell of support for the continuation of the PILT program in Fiscal Year 2014, funding for PILT was ultimately not included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. Following a public outcry and heated debate, a one-year extension of PILT was finally included in the Farm Bill conference report. These events caused much disruption and uncertainty for local governments that were trying to plan their budgets. Rep. Gosar’s effort seeks to provide certainty for county budgets and prevent these events from reoccurring in FY2015. Fifty colleagues followed Rep. Gosar’s lead and joined his effort. Click HERE to view Rep. Gosar's letter.

Rep. Gosar's second legislative effort seeks to ensure resources for SCAAP are maintained in the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations Bill. SCAAP is a grant program that reimburses states and local governments for the cost of incarcerating undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes. Click HERE to view Rep. Gosar's letter.

"Local governments in rural Arizona, and throughout the West, depend on resources from these vital programs," said Rep. Gosar. "Whether it's providing emergency services like police and fire operations on federal land or jailing illegal aliens convicted of crimes, PILT and SCAAP provide local governments with critical resources. To ensure the livelihoods and well-being of rural communities continues, it is essential that resources for these vital programs are prioritized annually until the federal government enforces the immigration laws on the books and until either we find a long-term funding solution for PILT or until the federal government transfers these lands back to state and local ownership."

BACKGROUND
PILT: In Fiscal Year 2013, the average PILT payment to counties in Rep. Gosar's district was $1.07 cents per acre of federally owned land. This figure pales in comparison to the amount of revenues that would be generated for states and local governments if economic development and value-based taxation were allowed to occur on these lands.

SCAAP: Compensation to local law enforcement agencies under SCAAP currently covers less than 18 percent of the actual cost of incarcerating undocumented criminal offenders. Further reducing resources for this vital program would shift an even greater burden onto states for what is a federal responsibility.

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