March 14, 2012

Wyden Statement on Senate Passage of County Payments Extension

Washington, D.C.U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- author of the Secure Rural Schools legislation that created the county payments program -- issued the following statement after the Senate passed and sent to the House the Transportation bill that includes a one-year extension of county payments:

“I want to thank Senator Merkley and the other members of the Senate for passing a Transportation bill that recognizes the federal government’s historic obligation to rural, natural-resource-dependent counties. Including Secure Rural Schools in this bill gives financially strained counties some breathing room for the next year while we search for a more permanent and long-range solution to funding schools, law enforcement, roads and other vital local services. I hope the House will follow the Senate’s lead and approve the bill as quickly as possible to give counties the certainty they need to begin budgeting for the fiscal year that starts July 1.”

The amendment provides for a one-year extension of the program to cover payments to be issued as part of Fiscal Year 2012. It will include a 5 percent ramp-down from the FY 2011 amount resulting in payments totaling $346 million nationwide in FY 2012. Oregon will receive $102 million during that time frame.

The Secure Rural Schools program was included as mandatory spending in President Obama’s FY 2013 budget which, while not guaranteeing extension, elevates the program to an essential expense and not subject to approval by Congressional appropriators. Wyden authored the original Secure Rural Schools legislation in 2000 and wrote the legislation extending the program in both 2007 and 2008.