November 28, 2018

Wyden, Crapo Lead Bipartisan call to Reauthorize Secure Rural Schools Funding in Year-end Legislation

WASHINGTON – Citing the importance of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today led a bipartisan call with 23 of their Senate colleagues calling for a one-year reauthorization of the program in any year-end funding measures.

“Over the last nearly two decades, SRS has been a critical lifeline for over 775 counties in over 40 states across the country by helping fund more than 4,400 schools, road maintenance, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations,” the Senators wrote in their letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York), adding, “Congress has an obligation to ensure counties with swaths of tax-exempt forestlands can adequately provide essential services for their residents.”

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act was first introduced in 2000 to assist counties containing tracts of federally-owned land that is tax-exempt.  Earlier this month, Crapo and Wyden introduced stand-alone legislation to extend SRS by one year.  It is hoped that Senate leadership will include that measure in its year-end funding proposal.

The senators added, “As we work to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for local economies, a short-term reauthorization of at least one year is critical to provide fiscal certainty for forested counties.”

The letter is also signed by Idaho Senator Jim Risch and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, along with senators Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) Bennett (D-Colorado), Booker (D-New Jersey), Boozman (R-Arkansas), Cantwell (D-Washington),  Capito (R-West Virginia), Daines (R-Montana), Feinstein (D-California), Gardner (R-Colorado), Harris (D-California), Hassan (D-New Hampshire), Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Manchin (D-West Virginia), Murray (D-Washington), Peters (D-Michigan), Rounds (R-South Dakota), Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Sullivan (R-Alaska),  Tester (D-Montana), and Wicker (R-Mississippi).

The full text of the letter is available here online.