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The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000: Forest Service Payments to Counties

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The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393) provided a temporary (through FY2006), optional program of payments to counties whose regular Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management receipt-sharing payments had declined significantly. Concerns about the decline in traditional payments, the substantial annual fluctuations in payments, and the linkage of payments to receipt-generating activities have led to many proposals to change the system. Tax equivalency is the most common alternative suggested, but the Clinton Administration proposed a program using historical payments, and this vision was used in P.L. 106-393.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expired at the end of FY2006. Congress could let the program end, renew the authorization or make it permanent, or modify it in various ways. Possible issues for modifying the program include the basis and level of compensation (historical, tax equivalency, etc.); the source of funds (receipts, a new tax or revenue source, etc.); the authorized and required uses of the payments; interaction with other compensation programs (notably Payments in Lieu of Taxes); and the duration of any changes (temporary or permanent). In addition, budget rules impose a procedural barrier to reauthorizing the law; to be considered on the floor, legislation with mandatory spending (in excess of the baseline) must be offset by additional receipts or declines in other mandatory spending.


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