Bennet Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Secure Rural Schools Program

Funding Provides Certainty for Rural Schools, Critical County Services in 43 Colorado Counties

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced he is a cosponsor of legislation to extend the U.S. Forest Service’s Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Program (SRS) through Fiscal Year 2020.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which was first introduced in 2000, supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services, and other essential county services for more than 775 counties around the country.

“The Secure Rural Schools program ensures rural communities across Colorado can make necessary investments in their schools, roads, and emergency services,” Bennet said. “It is incumbent on Congress to extend this program to provide local governments the resources they need and certainty for rural school districts that rely on these funds.”

Rural counties that contain tax-exempt public lands have historically relied on a share of timber receipts from these lands to fund education and county services. As timber harvest revenues have fallen, SRS helps to bridge the funding gap for rural counties across the country.

Bennet has long supported reauthorizing and funding SRS. Most recently, after introducing legislation in May 2017 to reauthorize SRS, Bennet secured a two-year reauthorization in the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill. Despite Bennet and a bipartisan group of senators urging Senate leadership to reauthorize the program last November, SRS has now expired.

The legislation is led by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and in addition to Bennet, cosponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mike Braun (R-IN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The bill text is available HERE.