KULR8: Over $12M secured for MT counties through Secure Rural Schools program

BIG SANDY, Mont. – U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced in a release that Montana will receive $12,197,140.10 as part of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS), helping to fund critical county-run services like law enforcement, schools and roads.

“Secure Rural Schools provides critical funding to Montana counties: helping maintain roads, keep kids in the classroom and respond to emergencies-and we’ve seen firsthand that, without it, our communities feel the burn,” Sen. Tester said. “That’s why I’ve been relentless in my efforts to ensure that SRS is authorized and funded, so we can bring these much-needed resources directly to Montana counties, especially as they work to recover from the coronavirus crisis and get their economies back on track.”

Congress passed SRS in 2000 to compensate forested counties for lost revenue due to declining timber production on federal lands. For the next 15 years, more than two dozen Montana counties received annual SRS payments to help fund schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services. Sen. Tester led the charge to revive the program after Congress allowed it to expire in 2015-which resulted in an 85% decrease in annual payments for Montana.

Sen. Tester said he secured authorization for two years of SRS funding in 2019 and pushed to create a long-term funding solution for the program at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to end stop-and-start authorizations and payments that left rural communities with insecurity. Earlier this year, he reintroduced legislation to that would reauthorize SRS through September 2022 and allow funds to be used to expand broadband connectivity at schools.