Democratic U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley welcomed the U.S. Agriculture Department decision to restore full Secure Rural Schools program payments for counties and schools.
The decision followed Wyden and Merkley’s call for the agency to release the more than $14 million in payments after reports that the agency wrongly withheld 6.2 percent of the resources intended for distribution under SRS to Oregon and other states, according to a statement from the senators’ offices.
“When it comes to making sure our roads and bridges are safe and that our teachers and law enforcement officers have the support they need, every dollar counts,” Wyden said. “The agency was right to reverse course and fully meet its obligations to Oregonians living and working in rural counties.”
“One of Oregon’s many treasures is our vast swaths of public lands. And to make sure that counties that contain those lands have the revenue they need for basic necessities like law enforcement and infrastructure, the federal government must pay its fair share,” Merkley said. “We didn’t let the administration shortchange Oregon counties this time, and we need to permanently authorize and fund SRS payments to make sure they can’t in the future.”
More than 700 counties and 4,400 school districts in more than 40 states rely on SRS payments to fund schools and essential services like roads and public safety.