Lane County, Oregon is preparing to release another group of inmates from prison if Washington lawmakers and the president cannot come to an agreement on the fiscal cliff, which seems increasingly to be the case. Lane County already released 30 inmates due to cuts in the budget and reductions in federal subsidies.
The county has become increasingly reliant upon federal “timber payments” to fulfill its budget through the years in compensation for logging areas seized by the federal government. Those subsidies have been reduced over the past several years, leaving the county vulnerable to any further cuts going over the fiscal cliff may trigger:
But there’s another reason why the tax base is low. Fifty-four percent of the land in Lane County belongs to the federal government, which pays no local taxes. The land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.More
For decades timber sales generated the majority of the county’s general fund, but that changed during the Clinton presidency. Eager to end the timber wars over the spotted owl, President Clinton came up with a plan that essentially pays rural timber counties to not log in the national forests.