Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after submitting a bipartisan programmatic request this week to the House Appropriations Committee advocating for full-funding of the Secure Rural Schools Program (SRS) for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and beyond:
“Secure Rural School payments provide critical funding to more than 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools throughout the country who are faced with unique challenges at no fault of their own. Historically, 25 percent of all timber harvest revenues went to counties with significant National Forest Lands within their borders to be used for education, roads and to offset property tax losses.
“However, with timber harvests down nearly 80 percent due to misguided forest management policies, rural counties and schools are once again facing the possibility of significant budget shortfalls, including curtailing law enforcement patrols, releasing prisoners from jail and cutting education budgets. Failing to take action and fulfill this long-standing obligation will leave counties and schools across the country without important resources they desperately need to serve their populations. These communities should not be punished as a result of large swaths of federal land within their jurisdictions and poor federal land management policies. Congress must ensure the Secure Rural Schools Program is fully-funded.”
Congressman Gosar’s programmatic request to the House Appropriations Committee on Secure Rural Schools can be found HERE.
In FY 2014, SRS payments totaled $285 million. While Congress retroactively reauthorized SRS payments for FY 2014 and 2015 on April 16, 2015, and payments will be made in calendar year 2016, counties and schools are once again facing the possibility of significant budget shortfalls. To date, SRS has not been reauthorized for FY 2016 or beyond.
22 bipartisan members of the House joined Congressman Gosar in submitting this programmatic request including: Dan Benishek, Suzanne Bonamici, Kevin Brady, Jason Chaffetz, Jim Costa, Peter DeFazio, Suzan DelBene, John Garamendi, Paul Gosar, Jared Huffman, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ben Lujan, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse, Kristi Noem, Steve Pearce, Kurt Schrader, Glenn Thompson, Scott Tipton, Peter Welch, and Ryan Zinke.