Getting our fair share shouldn’t be this difficult | NevadaAppeal.com

Getting our fair share shouldn’t be this difficult

Nevada should probably be happy with the $14.1 million it’s getting this year from the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program, since it’s about 3 percent more than the year before.

The problem is the payments are well below what would be fair compensation, and it’s a battle every year to keep the funding from being cut.

The Bush administration would love to use that cash elsewhere to pay for such things as the war and tax cuts.

This year’s payments were an improvement, but the increase was still below the inflation rate.

The program compensates counties with public lands for lost property tax revenues, and it’s money used for a variety of purposes, including firefighting, schools and roads. That money is important to Nevada, where more than 85 percent of the land is public, but since the funding is inconsistent, county officials can’t bank on it.

Next year, more cuts are proposed.

Fortunately, our delegation is fighting for an increase in 2007, but it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll succeed, in light of all the budget problems before the Senate.

In our view, it’s time for the administration to stop thinking of the West as an easy source of cash, and we’re not just talking about these payments.

You might recall a short-sighted proposal to sell 300,000 acres of national forests to raise about $800 million for schools. And the free pass oil companies are being given to natural resources on public lands.

Even when it comes to non-monetary issues, the state seems to get little respect. The majority of Nevadans are opposed to opening Yucca Mountain, but the feds aren’t listening.

It makes us wonder when Nevada and the West will begin reaping the rewards for our support of this administration.