the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

“in lieu” timber payments reauthorized… scheduled to phase out in 4 years

Posted by ecoshift on October 8, 2008

Looks like there’s a bit of rural timber county pork in the bailout bill. Unfortunately it will phase out “in lieu” payments to the county over 4 years. Better than nothing I expect. The next few years will take a toll on budgets for local schools and services…

Lake County News | California – Thompson: Bailout an imperfect but necessary choice

After the first version of the bill went down to defeat, work began on another version.

Thompson said he believed everyone in Congress came together to try to work through what was, for many, a new issue.

Members of Congress also met with academics and economists to try to find out the best course to take, he said.

Thompson said he talked to everybody that had insight into the economic issue that he could. He said they needed as many eyes on the plan as they could get.

Hundreds of pages added to legislation

The text of the bill that the Senate, and later the House, finally passed on Oct. 3 is – at about 450 pages – roughly three times as long as the original bill that failed on Sept. 29.

A key addition is an increase in deposit insurance coverage offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at FDIC-insured banks. Previously, deposits up to $100,000 were insured; that now rises to $250,000 per account owner. The increase became effective Oct. 3 and runs through Dec. 31, 2009.

Many of the additional provisions are related to energy production incentives, including credits for renewable and clean energy sources, such as solar, biodiesel and geothermal; energy conservation and efficiency provisions; extension of energy credits for refined coal facilities; carbon capture requirements for certain fuels; and financial incentives for refining tar sands and oil shale.

There also are tax extenders and alternative minimum tax relief, with extensions for both individuals and businesses; temporary suspension of limitations on the contributions of food to charitable organizations made by farmers and ranchers; temporary tax relief for areas of the Midwest hit earlier this year by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding; and temporary tax-relief bond financing and low-income housing tax relief for areas hit by Hurricane Ike, among many other measures.

One notable addition to the final version of the bill is a four-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which supplies funds to rural communities for roads and schools based on historic timber receipts.

Since the bill ran out at the end of 2006, it has run into repeated roadblocks as proponents attempted to get it extended. In recent years Lake County has received about $1 million a year, which has been split between the county road department and local schools, most notably those in Upper Lake, where much of the county’s timber was harvested.

Illinois Valley News: The Voice of the Illinois Valley

Josephine County Commission Chairman Dave Toler and other officials throughout S.W. Oregon felt relieved Friday, Oct. 3 after President Bush signed a financial rescue plan extending federal timber payments to counties for another four years.

Toler called the forthcoming monies “a bridge to the future.”

Oregon is to receive the biggest share of payments — approximately $254 million in the current budget year. Following are California ($63 million) Washington ($43 million), Idaho ($43 million) and Montana ($32 million).

The federal funding will continue to put Josephine and other counties in a solid financial position. Josephine and other counties in S.W. Oregon were facing the likelihood of drastic reductions in law enforcement, road maintenance, and other services.

Senators inserted the timber portion under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. It provides monies to rural counties that had been receiving O&C funds, but which were reduced by restrictions on federal logging harvests. The House approved the bill Oct. 3, two days after Senate passage.

Said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), “For rural Oregonians, we finally succeeded in reauthorizing and funding
our county timber payments program for the next four years, and we fully fund Payment in Lieu of Taxes through 2012.

“This is an enormous victory for our Oregon schools, counties, libraries, road departments and law
enforcement agencies. Counties and schools can now restore essential services and real, family wage jobs.
“For taxpayers,” said Walden, “this measure prevents 21 million Americans in the middle class and 237,000 additional Oregon households from having to pay the onerous Alternative Minimum Tax, which would otherwise cost families $62 billion in higher taxes this year alone.

“It extends tax relief for qualified college tuition and for teachers who personally pay for classroom needs. It extends the child tax credit, which is essential to growing families. Failure to stop these tax increases on the middle class would make their family economic situation even worse than it already is.

“For Oregon’s renewable energy sector,” Walden continued, “this measure extends tax incentives that are creating green collar jobs right here in Oregon through the development of wind, solar and fuel cells while providing research incentives for clean coal, plug-in hybrid vehicles and other conservation initiatives that will help make America more energy independent.”

The so-called county payments law provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon, Idaho and other states. Those states have counted on federal timber sales to pay for schools, libraries and other services in rural areas.

Nationwide, payments go to 700 counties in 39 states.

Following the president signing the bill, Dave Toler, chairman of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners said that the funding will provide a “bridge to the future.” He added though that citizens need to understand that the amount counties will receive will not be as much as during previous years.

Additionally, he noted, the payment will decrease each year.

Said Toler, “Calling it a four-year subsidy is really kind of inaccurate. This is a serious ramp-down. It goes from 90 percent in the first year to 40 percent in the last year, to zero.”

The chairman stated that Josephine County residents should not view the short-term subsidies as a permanent funding solution to the county’s public safety financial problems.

“This is a four-year phase-out,” Toler stressed, “and emphasis (should be) on the over and out.”
[emphasis added]

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