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Udall, Heinrich Offer Amendment to Protect State Mineral Leasing Payments for NM

2 other amendments would ensure full PILT funding

WASHINGTON – Today, as the Senate continues debate on the GOP tax bill, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have offered an amendment to prevent the federal government from paying for massive tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-wealthy by cutting or even entirely eliminating mineral leasing payments that the state of New Mexico and other Western states depend on to fund schools.

The GOP tax bill stands to raise the deficit by at least $1.4 trillion, which will result in deep, mandatory federal budget cuts, in order to comply with the Pay-As-You-Go Act. The cuts would jeopardize several programs that the state of New Mexico depends on, including royalties the federal government pays for oil, gas and coal developed on public lands. For fiscal year 2017, New Mexico will receive $455 million through the program. The Udall-Heinrich amendment would prevent the federal government from reducing mineral leasing payments to states on any legislation, including the GOP tax bill currently under debate.

“These royalties belong to the people of New Mexico – they are not a source of free money for the Republicans to use to pay for their tax cuts for billionaires, hedge funds and multinational corporations,” Udall said. “New Mexico can’t afford a $450 million budget cut, especially one that would slash the budget for public schools. And New Mexico’s school children shouldn’t have to pay for tax cuts for the top 1 percent. I will push for this amendment, but at the end of the day, the real solution is for Republicans to change course and work with Democrats on a responsible tax reform bill – one that doesn’t set New Mexico on a collision course for a huge budget cut.”

“The Republican tax bill being rushed through Congress is a massive tax giveaway for the wealthy and special interests financed on the backs of middle-class families. Republicans cannot afford the tax cuts they want and instead are blowing a $1.5 trillion hole in the national deficit that will force future cuts down the road,” said Heinrich. “Jeopardizing New Mexico’s budget and funding for public education so the well-connected and wealthy elite can get massive tax breaks is simply irresponsible. This amendment would protect the funding that is owed to New Mexico due to mineral development in the state and I will continue to urge my colleagues to craft a better bill that would lower taxes in a way that doesn’t add to the deficit.”

Udall and Heinrich also offered an amendment to fully fund Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools (SRS) by raising the corporate tax rate and another to return the bill to the Energy Committee to fund PILT and SRS. These amendments would make these programs permanent so they are no longer at risk in the annual budget and appropriations process and to ensure communities that depend on PILT and SRS can rely on the funding each year to help pay for schools, roads and bridges, and public safety.

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