Tester leads new, bipartisan effort to fully fund SRS, PILT

Senator shows support for Montana’s rural counties, schools

(Billings, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today told Senate leaders to fully fund two initiatives that support Montana’s rural communities: Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS).

The Senate is currently working on legislation to fund the federal government into 2015. As it does so, Tester is making sure Senate leaders know that fully funding these two initiatives will provide rural counties and towns with needed resources.

“In supporting the PILT and SRS programs, we have an opportunity to fulfill the federal government’s obligation to local communities with large amounts of federal lands,” Tester said. “Fully funding these programs helps ensure that counties can continue to provide essential services like law enforcement and health services while also maintaining our infrastructure and supporting public schools.”

PILT provided critical resources to 55 counties in Montana in Fiscal Year 2014. It was created to help offset losses to local governments from the presence of non-taxable federal lands.

SRS supports 34 Montana counties located near national forests. SRS payments support public schools, public roads, forest health projects and other county projects.

Together, the initiatives contribute nearly $50 million every year to local communities in Montana.

Tester is a long-standing supporter of PILT and SRS, pushing for full funding of the initiatives in the 2012 transportation bill and including PILT in this year’s Farm Bill and SRS in another piece of legislation last year.

Tester’s letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, which was also signed by Tester’s fellow Montana Senator, John Walsh, is available below.


Tester Letter to Senate Leaders on PILT-SRS by Dan Malessa