June 01, 2012

Manchin Fights to Protect Jobs in Rural West Va. Counties

Manchin urges reauthorization of two critical programs - Secure Rural Schools and Payments in Lieu of Taxes - in final Transportation bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is fighting for legislation that will help protect the jobs of teachers, road crews, police officers and other county employees in rural areas of West Virginia and the nation. He has joined a bipartisan group of 25 Senators who are urging negotiators working on the Surface Transportation bill to keep one-year extensions of two commonsense programs, Secure Rural Schools and Payments in Lieu of Taxes.
“Without this funding, counties’ budgets are facing drastic cuts, and potential insolvency,” the Senators wrote in a letter to the negotiators. “This legislation provides the last opportunity to pass an extension before layoffs take place and are made permanent for road crews, teachers, and other county workers across rural America.”
The Secure Rural Schools program provides payments to counties where national forests are located. The payments are given to the counties because national forests are tax-exempt, and the funds can be used for roads and schools. The payments are made by the U.S. Forest Service. West Virginia received $1,863,052 in county payments in 2011.
The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program requires the federal government to make payments to local governments that help offset the loss of property taxes that may arise because nontaxable federal lands are located within their boundaries. These PILT payments help local governments carry out vital services like firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations. West Virginia received $2,863,940 in PILT payments in 2011.
Failure to reauthorize the county payments and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program could result in 11,000 job losses, $1.37 billion in lose business revenue, and $1.88 billion in lost tax receipts next year.

  • Senator Manchin supported final passage of the Surface Transportation bill in the Senate, which passed 74-22 on March 14, 2012. The bill will create good jobs, preserve our nation’s highway system and fund highway, transit and safety programs for the next two years.

  • Senator Manchin supported several amendments to the Surface Transportation bill, including a measure that would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada, which both business and labor groups support because it would create thousands of American jobs and reduce our dependence on oil from hostile countries. 

  • Senator Manchin also supported several measures that would help the country use all of our vast domestic resources to achieve energy independence. He supported efforts to expand domestic drilling, encourage the use of natural gas vehicles and invest in our natural gas infrastructure. 

  • Senator Manchin voted in favor of an amendment called the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, S.A. 1660, which would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from prematurely shuttering industrial plants and destroying thousands of jobs. 

  • Senator Manchin supported a “Buy American” amendment to the bill, S.A. 1819, that would strengthen provisions related to public infrastructure projects in current law. The amendment, offered by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would close a loophole in current law that has allowed public infrastructure projects to be outsourced. 

  • The House version of the Surface Transportation Bill contained a provision related to coal ash, while the Senate version of the bill did not. Senator Manchin has said he would like to see all possible avenues explored so that the coal ash provision, which he has cosponsored, becomes the law of the land.