The Funding Provides Certainty for Rural Schools, Critical County Services in 43 Colorado Counties
Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), and other colleagues, introduced legislation to reauthorize the U.S. Forest Service’s Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Program (SRS) through September 2022. This program, which helps fund essential services in rural communities that are home to federal land, expired in September 2020. Currently, the last payment under the current authorization is scheduled for April 2021, less than two months from now.
“The Secure Rural Schools program is important across Colorado, providing necessary investments in schools, roads, and emergency services,” said Bennet. “It is Congress’ responsibility to extend this program and provide local governments with the resources they need and certainty for the communities that rely on these funds.”
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. 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. In 2017, he introduced legislation to reauthorize SRS and secured a two-year reauthorization in the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill. In 2018, Bennet and a bipartisan group of senators urged Senate leadership to include reauthorization for SRS in any end-of-year package. In 2019, he supported legislation that would extend SRS through fiscal year (FY) 2020. Later that year, Congress authorized SRS funding for FY19 and FY20.
In addition to Bennet, Crapo, Wyden, Risch, and Merkley, this bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The bill text is available HERE.