Tester’s Bill to Make Butte-Silver Bow & Anaconda-Deer Lodge Counties Whole Passes Senate, Soon Headed to President’s Desk

Senator’s bill overrules Treasury Department bureaucrats ruling that blocked critical funding

Today the U.S. Senate passed the Local Assistance Fairness Act championed by U.S. Senator Jon Tester as part of his continued effort to support Montana’s small businesses, law enforcement, and critical infrastructure. This legislation will ensure that Butte-Silver Bow and Anaconda-Deer Lodge Counties are eligible for the American Rescue Plan Act’s (ARPA) Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund. The two counties had been excluded from this funding by a recent Treasury Department announcement that the funds could not go to consolidated county-municipal governments.

The bill passed the Senate as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Omnibus Appropriations Package and, after passing the House of Representatives, will head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“I am always going to hold Washington D.C. bureaucrats accountable when they don’t treat Montanans fairly,” said Tester. “After hearing from folks in these counties, I teamed up with Republicans and Democrats to overrule this government overreach. I am pleased these resources will be headed to the counties where they can be used to create good-paying Montana jobs and keep folks safe.”

The September Treasury Department allocations for the ARPA Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund excluded two Montana counties, Anaconda-Deer Lodge and Butte-Silver Bow. These funds were intended for counties that are eligible for Payment in lieu of Taxes (PILT), but counties that are eligible for PILT and have consolidated county-municipal governments were excluded. Tester’s Local Assistance Fairness Act, which he introduced alongside Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, rectifies this for PILT-eligible counties that were excluded from this ARPA funding. These funds will allow local governments to keep folks safe, improve infrastructure, and lay the ground work to bring good-paying jobs to the region.

Tester helped negotiate ARPA, which provided this funding, and he was the only Montana statewide official that supported the legislation. In 2020, Tester held hundreds of meetings with Montana’s workers, small business owners, frontline health care workers, educators, Tribes, and local officials to solicit input about what Montanans need to make it through the pandemic. Tester used that input to help craft the American Rescue Plan, which provided $20 billion in vaccine funding, $382 million for Montana K-12 schools, legislation to restore rail service, and billions for small businesses, rural hospitals, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.