WASHINGTON—The National Governors Association (NGA) today released a statement regarding reduced federal payments to states and counties under the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program:
“Governors call on members of Congress to uphold their longstanding commitments to rural students and communities by restoring funding to the SRS program at FY 2015 levels and finding a permanent funding solution for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
The pillars of SRS—education, transportation and public safety—are also the pillars of state and local governments. States and the rural communities they serve depend on every dollar of SRS to mitigate the financial burden caused by lost tax revenue from timber harvests on federal lands.
Congress let SRS expire last year and as a result, rural communities have experienced draconian cuts, with the program reverting to a funding formula set in 1908.
Since March 7, many rural communities and school districts that depend on these payments to provide essential services to their residents are struggling to absorb the unplanned cuts. Additionally, since 1976, PILT has provided payments to states and counties to offset losses in tax revenue, which support essential government services that necessitate funding certainty.
In the forthcoming FY 2017 Continuing Resolution, Congress should prioritize rural Americans’ security by restoring SRS funding at FY 2015 levels and extending the program through FY 2018.”