U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader, announced on Monday that 31 Oregon counties will receive about $39.3 million in Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments for schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services.
These payments to Oregon counties are the last ones under the SRS program’s current authorization. Wyden, Merkley and Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) are making a bipartisan push to reauthorize the SRS program through September 2022 while also working to pass the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act,which would provide a long-term permanent solution to replace the need to reauthorize SRS every two years for rural counties in Oregon and nationwide.
“For the better part of two decades, SRS payments have maintained an economic lifeline for rural Oregonians counting on quality schools, dependable infrastructure and more in their communities,” said Wyden, who co-authored the original SRS law in 2000 and in the March 2021 American Rescue Plan got a new $1 billion-per-year payments program for Tribes and for rural counties with large tracts of federal lands. “The ongoing challenge of dealing with COVID-19 and its economic impact makes these current payments more important than ever now, while work continues both on a short-term SRS reauthorization and on a longer-term SRS endowment that gets rural counties once and for all off this roller coaster of uncertainty.”
“Every Oregonian—regardless of what they look like, where they live, or how much money they make—deserves to live in a community that has access to critical services like great schools and road maintenance,”said Merkley.
Since Wyden co-wrote the original SRS program in 2000 with then-Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, 2000, SRS has brought about $3.4 billion to Oregon counties.
A breakdown of the $39.3 million for Oregon counties is here.