Tester, Daines Push for Critical Resources for Montana Counties

Montana Senators Call on White House to Reauthorize Secure Rural Schools

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are pushing for critical resources for Montana counties.

Tester and Daines are calling on President Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to include the reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding in any future emergency disaster bill. In a bipartisan letter, Tester and Daines joined other Senators from across the west to underscore the need to restore SRS funding as many Montana counties are facing increased costs after a catastrophic wildfire season.

“We have seen firsthand the hardships rural counties face as a result of SRS authorization lapsing,” the Senators wrote. “Roads go unpaved and become unsafe. Mental and physical health services are scaled back or even ended. Fewer and fewer law enforcement officers are forced to patrol larger and larger areas.”

SRS was enacted in 2000 and provides payments to counties with federal land to compensate for declining timber production. SRS payments are often used to fund essential services such as schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure.

SRS payments expired in 2015, leaving county governments without certainty about how to fund essential services. Counties received their last SRS payments in March 2016, and since SRS expired, residents in many of the counties that depend on this funding have been forced to make difficult budget choices.

Tester and Daines are sponsoring bipartisan legislation to extend SRS payments for two more years.

Wildfires burned over 1.2 million acres across Montana this summer, which has left many Montana counties with additional costs to repair roads, fencing, and other important infrastructure.

Tester and Daines’ letter is available HERE.