Tester Fights to Reauthorize Critical Funding for Montana Counties
Senator Calls on Washington to Restore Bipartisan Program, Support Rural Communities
(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on Washington to reauthorize critical funding for Montana counties.
Tester is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to reauthorize Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding to ensure rural counties across Montana can pay for essential services like schools and roads.
“The SRS program has provided critical funding to Montana’s forested counties, supporting schools, road maintenance, emergency services, and other essential local government services,” wrote Tester. “The expiration of the SRS initiative dealt a harsh blow to residents in these counties.”
Congress passed SRS in 2000 to compensate forested counties with federal land for lost revenue due to declining timber production. However the initiative expired in 2015 and has yet to receive reauthorization, leaving forested counties in financial limbo.
In the final payment before expiration, Montana counties received $18 million in SRS funding to help pay for schools, roads, jails, and other essential services.
The highest awarded SRS counties in the final 2015 payment were:
- Lincoln County: $4,386,836
- Flathead County: $1,689,164
- Ravalli County: $1,053,817
- Powell County: $822,467
- Granite County: $600,036
“Local governments always have a difficult task in balancing their budgets, but these cuts break the bank,” Tester continued. “We must work together to reauthorize the SRS program as soon as possible to provide certainty to rural county governments and the people who rely on them.”
Tester previously called on Senate leadership to include SRS funding before the end of 2017 and he is sponsoring a bipartisan bill to extend the 2000 law that established SRS.
You can read the full text of the letter HERE.