Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, advocated for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), two programs that are of great importance to Idaho’s rural communities. In recent years, SRS and PILT funding has become unreliable, creating severe financial uncertainty for affected counties.
The committee held a hearing to examine three bills, including the S. 1643, the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act, led by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and S. 430, a bill to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, led by Crapo and cosponsored by Risch.
“This is a real problem for communities in Idaho. Counties can’t plan for the future or feel secure that they’ll have enough funds in the short-term to support critical services like emergency services and education,” said Risch. “The federal government has an obligation to these communities. We owe it to them to find a lasting solution and reauthorize SRS and PILT.”
The SRS and PILT programs provide long-term financial security for rural counties that are unable to collect taxes on federal land within their county boundaries. More than 60 percent of Idaho’s land is federally managed, which poses significant financial hardship for rural counties and communities.