Reps. Huffman, Kilmer, DeFazio Statement on Bipartisan Agreement to Renew Secure Rural Schools Program
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) today released the following statements after securing a renewal of the Secure Rural Schools program, which expired last September due to Congressional inaction. The renewal will be included in an upcoming vote this week.
“I am pleased that funding for rural communities was included in this bipartisan bill, and I was glad to be able to work with my colleagues Peter DeFazio and Derek Kilmer to renew the program. The Secure Rural Schools program is vital to many of the counties I represent—they rely on these funds to provide basic services to their residents, like supporting public schools and roads. Allowing the Secure Rural Schools program to lapse was unacceptable,” Huffman said. “Reinstating the Secure Rural Schools program is a major accomplishment for rural counties, and it is due in large part to the advocacy of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who took our suggestion and brought it to fruition.”
“It’s great news that we’ve secured a bipartisan agreement to help our rural communities. For over a century the Secure Rural School program has helped cities and towns near national forest lands provide essential services to our kids and their families,” Kilmer said. “With this deal, projects like repairs on access roads and investments in local schools can move forward. I was proud to work with my colleagues Representatives Huffman and DeFazio to push House leadership to get this done.”
“It’s not always easy to find common ground in Congress. But today, both sides came together to do what’s right for our struggling, economically depressed rural communities,” DeFazio said. “Jared, Derek, and I fought hard to get this crucial provision in must-pass legislation so basic services in rural communities in the West don’t completely collapse. We will continue to work on a long-term solution for rural communities that puts people back to work in the woods, improves forest health, and provides revenues to counties to continue basic services.”
Since National Forest land cannot be taxed by counties or states, for more than 100 years the U.S. Forest Service has shared revenues from timber harvests on federal lands with the nearby communities. SRS sends funds to more than 700 counties and 4,000 school districts across the nation. Oregon, California and Washington are the top recipients of SRS funds.
California’s SRS payments totaled $32.7 million in FY 2013, and payments to counties in Huffman’s 2nd Congressional District totaled more than $5.7 million:
- Del Norte County: $1,217,621
- Trinity County: $3,286,334
- Humboldt County: $935,964
- Mendocino County: $307,490
Washington’s SRS payments totaled $18.9 million in FY 2013, and payments to counties in Kilmer’s 6th Congressional district totaled more than $2.5 million:
- Clallam County: $866,081
- Grays Harbor County: $369,996
- Jefferson County: $877,496
- Mason County: $393,938
Oregon’s SRS Payments totaled more than $100 million in FY 2013, and payments to counties in DeFazio’s 4th Congressional district totaled nearly $56 million.
- Benton County: $928,825
- Coos County: $2,640,004
- Curry County: $3,638,985
- Douglas County: $19,743,410
- Josephine County: $7,224,485
- Lane County: $15,836,724
- Linn County: $5,957,210
In a letter sent last December to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the members pointed out that SRS program provides vital funding to communities facing declining revenue from timber sales on federal lands. The program helps rural counties pay for infrastructure projects and supports local school districts.