Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have announced that a two-year authorization of the Secure Rural Schools program is included in the end-of-year funding package that will be considered by Congress sometime this week.
A release from the Senators said that is a significant win for rural communities in the northwest and nationwide and would reauthorize the lapsed program, providing financial certainty for counties containing federally-owned lands.
Wyden said “Congress took one big step closer to making sure people living and working in rural communities have the resources they need for their schools, roads and other essential services”. He said a two-year extension of the SRS program would mean counties “can breathe a little easier” as Congress works toward a permanent solution “that gets rural counties off the roller coaster of uncertainty”.
Merkley said Secure Rural School payments provide “a much-needed lifeline for critical services”.
Earlier this year the senators from Oregon and Idaho, led 27 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting at least a two-year reauthorization of the SRS program, as Congress “works to establish a permanent county payments solution”.
The SRS legislation was originally co-authored by Wyden in 2000 to financially assist counties that have public, tax-exempt forestlands.