Cash strapped local governments around the country that rely on federal forest “in lieu” taxes to fund roads, schools, and other vital government services, received a reassuring pat on the shoulder over the weekend in learning that President Obama is seeking to restore those funds in his federal budget proposal. Oregon counties like Lane, Josephine, Douglas, Curry, Coos and Lincoln counties among others, have relied heavily on those tax funds to keep them solvent. Lincoln County officials say Lincoln County has laid off nearly 100 workers over the past few years in an effort to “wean” the county away from timber receipts. But other counties say they haven’t been as successful since timber receipts are such a big component to their annual services outlays for roads and schools.
Although President Obama has included timber receipt restoration in his budget, getting it approved by the Congress may prove difficult during what is shaping up to be a red-hot political election year with loud and long debates over the economy, jobs, and the ever whirling controversy about the country’s debt.
The Oregonian picks it up from here. Click here.
The following is a statement from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on the topic:
Washington, D.C. – Funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act — commonly known as “county payments” — is included as “mandatory” spending in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget released today. (Previous years’ budgets have listed the county payments program as “discretionary” spending.)
Programs listed as mandatory spending in the President’s budget are considered to be essential and are not subject to annual approval by Congressional appropriators. Unlike programs designated as discretionary spending, mandatory spending is controlled by laws other than the annual appropriations acts and funding is provided automatically without requiring further action by Congress. In the President’s 2012 budget, County Payments were designated as discretionary.