WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 6, 2018) – Today, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) joined a bipartisan group of members from the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to advocate for the extension of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program which provides funding to seven of the ten counties she represents in Eastern Washington. The Secure Rural Schools program provides counties with funding to make up for lost timber revenues on federal forests. Counties use this funding to help with infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, public schools, health and law enforcement services, and other public services. In case you missed it, you can watch the full press conference here:
Rep. McMorris Rodgers’s remarks as delivered:
“It’s wonderful to be here and I’m just thrilled to be joined by the National Association of Counties.
“These leaders at the county level from Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho. They’re on the frontlines.
“We are here to join in support and to raise awareness as to the importance of the Secure Rural Schools program.
“Nearly 100 years ago it was recognized that we needed to make sure on our federal forests that revenue from the federal forests that dominate a lot of these counties and their property needs is dedicated to supporting the local services, the essential services for our schools and for our counties and our roads and making sure that our communities are safe.
“And through the years, especially in recent decades we’ve seen where that revenue has been decreasing.
“And it just makes it harder and harder then, for those that are at the county level or in our schools trying to meet important needs and build communities and meet the needs of our kids and our families to survive.
“And I represent several counties who are dependent and need the Secure Rural Schools funding.
“Unfortunately, this program was put in place and 2000, but it expired in 2015.
“And we are here, we are joining to make sure that this is a priority — that we get it included in the budget agreement to raise awareness here on Capitol Hill in the House and the Senate and to say that we must get this done.
“I come from Northeastern Washington, Derek was talking about his area on the peninsula, but I come from timber-dependent communities and what happens on our national forests drive the economy in those communities.
“And when this revenue, when there isn’t the forest levels and the revenue coming off the forests, it means that these communities are in a desperate situation.
“So we are working to get the forest management reforms, also, so these are working forests, but we also need to have the support from the federal government, recognizing that this is the economic driver and what happens on these forests impact our communities, impact families, impact our future.
“So, Secure Rural Schools and PILT, we’re here to get it done. Thank you, everyone, for joining.”
NOTE: The Secure Rural Schools program provides vital funding for seven counties across Eastern Washington to assist with public schools, roads, and other municipal needs.
In May of 2017, Rep. McMorris Rodgers introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the program. For more information about this legislation, visit the Congresswoman’s website here.
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