December 10, 2014

Wyden: Rural Counties Lose Out After County Payments Left Out Of Spending Bill

House Republican Leaders Have Rejected Lifeline for Rural Counties In End-Of-Year Legislation

Washington, D.C. – Today House Republican leaders rejected Sen. Ron Wyden’s efforts to fund and pass county payments for one more year. The decision will leave cash-strapped Oregon counties with little money to fund law-enforcement, schools and roads.

“Rural Oregonians deserve better than to have politics put on hold this essential lifeline for funding roads, firefighters and schools,” Wyden said. “I will not stop fighting for Oregon’s rural counties. I’ll be back at it when Congress returns in January.”

More than 700 counties in 41 states receive Secure Rural Schools funding. Last year, Oregon counties received more than $107 million through the Secure Rural Schools program and more than $17 million from Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).  It appears that PILT may be funded, but Secure Rural Schools remains on the cutting room floor.

Unless Republican leaders change their stance, counties will be forced to close jails and libraries, leading to fresh layoffs in the communities that can least afford to lose jobs and essential public services.  

Wyden authored the Secure Rural Schools and County Self-Determination Act with Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in 2000, and successfully renewed it several times, most recently last year. To date, Oregon counties have received more than $2.8 billion from SRS.