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Shaheen, Hassan and Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for Reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools Funding

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership with 23 Senators yesterday, calling for a one-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in any year-end funding measures. The SRS program is administered by the U.S. Forest Service and supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services and many other essential county services. Three New Hampshire counties including Coos, Grafton and Carroll, receive payments through the SRS program to help offset the loss of revenue from timber receipts on federal forests. This year, New Hampshire has received a total of $446,161 from the U.S. Forest Service with nearly half of those funds coming through the SRS program.

“Over the last nearly two decades, SRS has been a critical lifeline for over 775 counties in over 40 states across the country by helping fund more than 4,400 schools, road maintenance, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations,” the Senators wrote in their letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY). “Congress has an obligation to ensure counties with swaths of tax-exempt forestlands can adequately provide essential services for their residents.”

The SRS program was first established in 2000 to assist counties containing tracts of federally-owned land that is tax-exempt. Senators Shaheen and Hassan are strong supporters of SRS and cosponsored bipartisan legislation to extend the program’s authorization through 2020.

The senators added, “As we work to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for local economies, a short-term reauthorization of at least one year is critical to provide fiscal certainty for forested counties.”

The letter is also signed by Senators Wyden (D-OR), Crapo (R-ID), Risch (R-ID) Merkley (D-OR), Baldwin (D-WI) Bennett (D-CO), Booker (D-NJ), Boozman (R-AK), Cantwell (D-WA),  Capito (R-WV), Daines (R-MT), Feinstein (D-CA), Gardner (R-CO), Harris (D-CA), Heinrich (D-NM), Klobuchar (D-MN), Manchin (D-WV), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Rounds (R-SD), Sullivan (R-AK),  Tester (D-MT), and Wicker (R-MI).

The full text of the letter is available here.