Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Ron Wyden
Posted on 2015-02-12
WYDEN (for himself, Mr. Crapo, Mr. Risch, Mr. Merkley, Mr.
Udall, Mr. Bennet, Mrs. McCaskill, and Mr. Tester):
S. 517. A bill to extend the secure rural schools and community self-
determination program, to restore mandatory funding status to the
payment in lieu of taxes program, and for other purposes; to the
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, today I am proud to introduce the Secure Rural Schools and Payment in Lieu of Taxes Repair Act with my colleague Senator Crapo. The bill will ensure that counties across the nation will have three more years of Secure Rural Schools, SRS, payments. Additionally, the bill would restore mandatory funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, PILT.
Because Congress failed to take action to reauthorize SRS before the end of the 113th Congress, counties across the country received SRS payments this week that represent a fraction of last year's payment, leaving counties struggling to find ways to fund schools, roads, and emergency services this year. Without certainty and stability, counties will be forced to make cuts to essential services, leaving residents and communities reeling. County payments are a lifeline for cash- strapped rural communities that are already facing shortfalls to pave roads, keep teachers in schools and firefighters on call. This bipartisan bill keeps up the commitment the government made to support rural counties in Oregon and across the country. I am glad to once again partner with Senator Crapo to get this vital legislation across the finish line.
Right now, this bill is not funded. It will be. Senator Crapo and I will work with our colleagues to find funding for these important programs that is satisfactory to the left and to the right.
Funding for counties is an issue that impacts almost every State in the country. As Congress considers this bill, I ask my colleagues to talk to county leaders in their home states, visit local communities struggling to fund critical services, and find out how SRS and PILT impact their budgets, their priorities, and their quality of life. Rural communities deserve better than to have politics delay funding for SRS, so I urge my colleagues to join Senator Crapo and me in our efforts to reauthorize this critical program.
______ By Mr. CARDIN: S. 518. A bill to require States to establish highway stormwater management programs; to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.