WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), alongside Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), led 61 of her colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership urging them to include long-term funding certainty for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs for rural counties in the next round of COVID-19 relief.
As McMorris Rodgers and DeFazio said in the letter, “The stop and start authorizations and payments under SRS and PILT have wreaked havoc on rural America for decades, and now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the budgets of these rural counties are decimated. These two programs fund roads, schools, law enforcement, and other essential county services such as public health programs. With inadequate funding and now additional demands on their resources, rural communities and counties are at the breaking point.”
They continued, “Despite being small, rural, and generally relatively remote, county governments that rely on SRS and PILT are responding to the same national health crisis facing larger cities and urban areas. Extending these two programs has wide, bipartisan support as proven by the multiple extensions over the years. Now more than ever, these counties need the certainty that long term authorizations can provide to ensure viability for these programs for generations to come.”
“Sixty-two percent of the nation’s counties contain untaxable federal public lands. The Payments In Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools programs are economic drivers and support first responders, public health professionals, law enforcement officials and others addressing COVID-19,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We thank Representatives DeFazio and McMorris Rodgers for leading the charge for long-term certainty for these crucial programs. We urge Congress to pass permanent funding for PILT and SRS in the next relief package to help public lands and forest counties mitigate the coronavirus public health and economic crises.”
Read the full letter by clicking here.
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