Last week, Representative Paul Cook (R-San Bernardino) introduced the Coronavirus County Relief and Stability Act (H.R. 7090), allowing every county to receive direct federal assistance amidst the coronavirus and reauthorizing the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for five years.

Co-sponsored by Representative Salud O. Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara), Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Butte), and Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey), the bi-partisan legislation would provide a $1 million base to each and every county and allocate funds above the $1 million base relative to the overall population of each county. Furthermore, the legislation provides much-needed flexible aid, which can be spent on a wide range of purposes, including backfilling revenue losses as well as efforts to respond to the outbreak and address other budget shortfalls.

In addition, the Coronavirus County Relief and Stability Act would authorize the federal PILT program in Fiscal Year 2021 through Fiscal Year 2026. The federal PILT program is vital for many of California’s counties, particularly rural counties that contain significant federal land, where these funds are a sizeable share of the county’s general fund budget and are used to provide critical services. Unfortunately, many counties have had to use general fund dollars to support COVID-19 pandemic responses.

RCRC strongly supports this legislation which reauthorizes PILT to counties, and ensures that counties will receive significant funding to address the outbreak as well as recover once the public health emergency has passed. Read RCRC’s letter of support here. Anticipating that these provisions may be incorporated into another coronavirus relief package rather than continue as a stand-alone piece of legislation, RCRC staff will be working through our federal advocates and our partners at the National Association of Counties to ensure a second round of federal funding – directly dedicated to low-population counties - is enacted.