Gov. Bullock? Tell Tidwell to Take A Hike
Late last month, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell sent letters out to the states asking for a return of (presumably) 10% of the Secure Rural Schools funds payed out in January of this year.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead was pretty quick to criticize the fed’s move – and just in the last few hours Mead appears to have made up his mind: He won’t be returning the money.
I won’t go into the specifics on SRS funds, though that link gives a great rundown on what they are where they come from and all that good stuff. Basically, though, SRS funds come from the revenue generated on federal lands. It’s paid out proportionally to each state – and each county – based on the amount of revenue generated and the amount of land in each county. It’s also based on the previous years revenues.
So the payments made in January of this year were based on 2012 revenues.
Is this government welfare? I don’t think so. Here in Missoula County, 49% of the lands are federal, state or local govt. owned. None of that land is taxed, and yet the Sheriff’s Department, for example, is out there dealing with criminal activity on USFS roads.
For the state’s lands, Fish Wildlife and Parks is, by some weird law, required to recycle its funding from the legislature back to the local county by paying taxes. How that makes sense, I’ll never understand.
I assume that Montana Dept. of Revenue has already distributed those SRS funds. I also assume most counties have incorporated it into their budgets. In Lincoln County, it’s a pretty significant hit, with their share of the sequestration return equaling their road fund.
Which could lead me to the messed up way the state’s gas tax money is distributed, but it’s a little late now and I’ve probably already bored ya’all to tears.
All of that being said, I’ll be calling Bullock tomorrow to tell him to tell Tidwell to “take a hike” – and calling Baucus, Tester and Daines to suggest to them that they should reassess the government wanting what is essentially their 2012 calendar year tax payment to Montana refunded.