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Rep. Martin Causer: Completed Budget Addresses Key Issues for Rural Pennsylvania

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Increased payment in lieu of taxes, funding for 9-1-1 featured

HARRISBURG – Increased payments for state-owned land, support for vital 9-1-1 systems and the long-awaited distribution of funding for libraries and career and technical schools are among the issues addressed as the General Assembly finally completed the state budget process this week, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter).

“It took longer than it should have to get here, but I am pleased to finally have a final 2023-24 state budget in place that also addresses some key issues for our rural communities,” Causer said.

First and foremost, the budget package provides a much-needed increase in the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) on state-owned forest lands, as well as lands owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).

Under Act 34 of 2023, payments by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) would increase from $6 to $7.20 per acre, with the funding split three ways between municipalities, school districts and counties in which the land is located. DCNR’s PILT rate was last increased in 2017.

The bill also increases payments required by PFBC and PGC from $3.60 to $7.20 per acre, also with the funding split three ways between municipalities, school districts and counties in which the land is located. The rate paid by these two agencies last increased in 2006.

The increases will be paid for with state gaming revenue.

“We have a lot of state-owned land here in Cameron, McKean and Potter counties, and that land is not subject to property taxes,” Causer said. “The PILT is designed to compensate for that, and I’m very pleased to see this significant increase that will better support our communities and taxpayers.”

Causer also praised reauthorization of the state’s 911 fee to support the ongoing need for technology updates to county 911 systems across the Commonwealth. The law was set to expire in January 2024. Under Act 34, the fee will increase to $1.95 for a period of two years.

“Emergency response saves lives, and that’s why we need to make investments in our 911 systems to keep equipment and technology up to date,” Causer said. “Protecting public health and safety is always a top priority.”

Completion of the final budget-related bills also means funding allocated for community colleges, libraries and career and technical schools can be fully distributed.

Causer said it was important to complete the budget this week as next year’s budget process will launch in February when Gov. Josh Shapiro offers his proposal before a joint session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

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