Merkley: Secure Rural Schools Amendment a Lifeline For Rural Counties

WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the Senate voted 82-16 to pass an amendment that will extend the Secure Rural Schools and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs:

“Today is a very good day for our timber counties. County payments are a basic commitment that the federal government has made to our rural communities, and it was inexcusable to ever let them lapse. The passage of this amendment is a lifeline to Oregon’s timber counties. It is essential to maintaining roads, public safety services, and schools for our families. I am very pleased that we are finally moving forward with an agreement that will keep teachers in classrooms and cops on the beat while we work toward a long-term forest management solution. The federal government must keep its commitment to Oregon, and I will not let up until this bill is on the President’s desk and signed into law.”

Merkley and Oregon’s senior senator Ron Wyden have been working closely in a bipartisan effort to extend county payments, along with Senators Baucus and Tester of Montana, Crapo and Risch of Idaho, and Lee of Utah, among others. The agreement would extend funding for one year.