November 21, 2019

Energy Committee Holds Hearing on Crapo, Wyden, Risch Secure Rural Schools Legislation

Crapo submits statement for the record in support financial support for rural counties

Washington, D.C. -- The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing today to examine federal payments to local governments provided through the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs.  The Committee considered several pieces of legislation related to rural county payments, including U.S. Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) legislation, S. 430.  The Committee also considered U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-Oregon) legislation, S. 1643, of which Crapo has been a longtime supporter and co-sponsor.  Senator Crapo provided written testimony in support of both pieces of legislation and commended the Committee for advancing consideration of these measures. 

S. 430, introduced on February 11, 2019, would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which expired September 30, 2018.  The Forest Management for Rural Stability Act (S. 1643), introduced by Senators Wyden, Crapo, Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) in May 2019, would establish a growing endowment to provide funding needed for schools, road maintenance, law enforcement and other essential services.  It would end the need for short-term or retroactive reauthorizations of the SRS program. 

Full text of Senator Crapo’s written testimony is below: 

“Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Manchin, thank you for holding today’s hearing.  The legislation you are considering is critical for the promotion of financial certainty for rural counties throughout Idaho. 

“Earlier this year, I was joined by many of our colleagues representing western and other states home to federal lands, including the leadership of this Committee, in introducing S. 430, which would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) program.  SRS expired on September 30, 2018.  Congress has routinely failed to reauthorize the SRS program before its expiration, leaving Idaho counties in limbo and unable to plan for the future.  Without reauthorizing the SRS program, forested counties in Idaho are subject to payments based on an obsolete receipt formula that falls short of today’s needs.  Because Idaho’s land is approximately 63 percent federally managed, SRS resources are a lifeline for Idaho’s rural counties.  I have been a vocal and outspoken supporter of SRS programs in order to deliver critical services such as schools, roads, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations.  Given Idaho’s expansive federal estate, SRS makes it possible to maintain these services in lieu of the ability to economically develop and tax federal land.  Enactment of S. 430 would help provide local communities with some fiscal stability while a long-term bipartisan solution for SRS funding can be developed. 

“I am also a strong supporter and advocate of S. 1643, the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act, which would establish an endowment fund to provide funding needed for schools, road maintenance, law enforcement and other essential services.  Senator Wyden and I introduced this legislation in order to finally establish a permanent, long lasting and predictable source of funding for rural communities and school districts encompassed by federal land.  I commend the Committee’s willingness to consider this legislation today and will continue to work to advance S. 1643 in order to provide proper resources to our rural constituents. 

“I am honored to be joined by a diverse bipartisan group of senators working to promote the SRS program, and I look forward to working with you and every member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to help our local rural communities.” 

###