March 08, 2012

Wyden’s County Payments Amendment Accepted into the Senate Transportation Bill

Extends Vital Program for one year with 5 percent ramp down from previous year

Washington, D.C. – As current funding to rural counties for the Secure Rural Schools program known as county payments has expired, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has successfully included a one-year extension of this vital program into the Senate Transportation bill pending on the floor. The amendment is based on legislation Wyden and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced in September to extend the county payments program and provide a support to rural counties struggling to pay for road and schools.

“County payments are the financial lifeline many rural counties in Oregon depend on,” Wyden said. “The program not only funds necessities such as roads and schools, it also provides rural counties with the fiscal security they need to get on and maintain a sound fiscal path. The importance of this program is well understood in Oregon and I have long called it one of the most important pieces of legislation I have authored for my state during my time in the Senate. This extension is for one-year so the fight is not over and I will continue to do everything I can to see this program extended for as long as it is my ability to do so. Oregon’s rural counties depend on it.”

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 fought to have the program extended in 2007 and 2008.