March 27, 2007

CRAPO URGES FUNDING FOR RURAL SCHOOLS

Amendment to emergency spending bill would extend county payments for five years

WASHINGTON, D.C. - This evening, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo joined fellow Idaho Senator Larry Craig in supporting a multi-year proposal to restore funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. The provision, offered today by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden as an amendment to the supplemental appropriations measure (H.R. 1591), includes help for rural schools, counties and communities by extending the county payments for one year and reauthorizing the program for five years, providing almost $5 billion through 2012.Today, Crapo issued the following statement to support the effort to resolve the critical situation currently facing rural Idaho communities:"Mr. President, I rise today in support of the funding provided in the supplemental appropriations legislation for continuation of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, and the five-year reauthorization of the program through the Wyden amendment. Counties and school districts across this country are poised to cut much needed jobs and services without this continuation. Many of us have heard the urgent calls from constituents. The message has been clear - 'Please help us.' And, I'm proud to answer that call by supporting this reauthorization. "For example, Idaho's Fremont County is one of the counties across the State and nation that has been faced with a dire situation. Fremont County is looking at not only eliminating road and bridge services but also students would be impacted by a loss of nursing services for students, playground and safety equipment at elementary schools, library books, and continuing education instructions. "Ideally, management of our forested land would generate the revenue necessary to assist with services in cash-strapped communities with large amounts of federally owned land. Unfortunately, that just hasn't been the case for some time. We must continue to work to remove impediments to forest health and productivity. However, in the meantime, Congress must commit the resources necessary to ensure that rural communities across this country do not have to forgo road maintenance, close libraries, and make cuts to children's education. Anything less is unacceptable. "The legislation before us today would respond by fully funding PILT through 2012 reauthorizing Secure Rural Schools through 2011, reauthorizing the valuable Resource Advisory Committees (RACs), and phasing down the payments over time. I urge other Senators to join me in supporting this amendment that fulfills the responsibility to these communities that shoulder the local cost of the public lands we all enjoy."