May 08, 2008

Senate Committee Assigns $400 Million for County Payments

Wyden calls on the Full Senate and House to "get the job done"

Washington, D.C. - In a continued effort to provide lasting relief for the nation's rural schools and communities, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced today that $400 million is included in the Senate's Iraq supplemental spending bill for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, commonly known as the "county payments" law. The bill which includes all of the government's emergency supplemental funding for FY 2008 is expected to pass the Senate Appropriations Committee next Thursday, May 15.

"This funding could not come sooner for Oregon's rural schools and communities," said Wyden. "I am deeply appreciative that my Senate colleagues continue to recognize the importance of keeping rural America afloat."

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, originally authored by Wyden and U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) established a six-year payment formula for counties that receive revenue sharing payments for the United States Forestry Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Based on historical timber receipts, the formula established a stable source of revenue to be used for education, roads and various other county services in rural areas.

Over 700 counties in 39 states have received funding under the original country payments law, which was allowed to expire in September 2006. Last year by a vote of 74 to 23 the Senate approved a multi-year extension of the county payments law as part of the FY 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill; however after negotiations with the House of Representatives, the law was only extended for one year.

Once the Senate passes the Supplemental Appropriations bill it will need to be reconciled with the House of Representative's version, which is still under negotiation.