Draft Resolution Regarding the Impact of Federal Lands on the State Education System
WHEREAS, the power to tax is the fuel of self-governance;
WHEREAS, the right and authority of state and local governments to promote the highest value and use of land is fundamental to funding education and other essential government services;
WHEREAS, the federal government still controls more than [INSERT RELEVANT PERCENTAGE] percent of all land in the state of [INSERT STATE], which is not subject to state or local taxes;
WHEREAS, under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, federal land policy changed from one of disposal, were it would enter the state tax rolls, to permanent federal retention as untaxable public land;
WHEREAS, this policy change deprives [INSERT STATE] of the right and ability to tax more than [INSERT RELEVANT PERCENTAGE] percent of all land within our state;
WHEREAS, recognizing the substantial burden this policy change imposed on the ability of state and local governments to fund education and other essential government services, Congress established the Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, program to compensate for the tax revenue denied;
WHEREAS, the definition of “in lieu” means a substitute of equal value and importance, something that is just as good as what was given up;
WHEREAS, by any objective measure, federal PILT payments to [INSERT STATE] are not “just as good as” the tax revenue the state, subdivisions and school districts would otherwise generate but for federal control of [INSERT STATE] lands;
WHEREAS, in actuality, PILT amounts are little more than Pennies In Lieu of taxes;
WHEREAS, this reflects a tax break to the federal government on the backs of [INSERT STATE]’s children and communities to the tune of several billion dollars each year;
WHEREAS, without regard to the longstanding debate over whether or not the federal government should ever relinquish control of [INSERT STATE] lands, so long as the federal government does withhold lands from being subject to tax, the federal government should pay the full amount in lieu of tax revenue denied our taxing entities;
WHEREAS, our state, subdivisions and school districts struggle to provide other essential government services and proper payment of PILT will help this imbalance;
WHEREAS, for more than ten years, Congress has been erratic in the amount and timeliness of PILT payments to [INSERT STATE] counties;
WHEREAS, in 2014, for example, Congress did not authorize PILT payments until more than halfway into the fiscal year for our state and subdivisions, placing essential government services in jeopardy; and
WHEREAS, several [INSERT STATE] counties that have only a small percentage of taxable land are facing the exodus of families with young children due to diminishing education funding and limited employment opportunities:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of [INSERT STATE], the Governor concurring therein, in solemn awareness of our duty to the rising generation, urge the President of the United States and the United States Congress in the most strenuous terms to establish and codify, in coordination with the state, an objective standard for calculating the value of PILT payments, which are equivalent to the tax revenue the state, subdivisions and school districts would otherwise be able to generate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State Legislature and the Governor urge the President and Congress, on behalf of our children and communities, to timely and faithfully pay PILT payments to the state and subdivisions, as mandatory and nondiscretionary payments.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor urge the President and Congress to treat PILT payments to fund education for our children as essential services for our communities and refrain evermore from withholding PILT payments.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature and the Governor urge members of [INSERT STATE]’s congressional delegation to propose and secure the passage of legislation that requires PILT payments to be a fair and steady source of revenue the state, subdivisions and school districts would otherwise be able to generate but for the federal control.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to the President of the United States, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, each member of [INSERT STATE]’s congressional delegation, governors and state legislative leaders of western states and organizations that serve state governors and legislatures.