WASHINGTON – Legislative text, S. 3706, authored by U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho), to fix a technical error in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and preserve rural counties’ Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payment allocations is now headed to the President’s desk for signature following passage in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
“Secure Rural Schools provides for schools, roads, and essential services in rural communities across Idaho,” said Risch. “I was proud to work with Senator Crapo and others to secure a 3-year SRS reauthorization, and I am pleased we were able to make this technical change to ensure the program works correctly for our counties."
“This technical fix for the SRS extension in the IIJA will ensure stability for counties receiving payments under the program,” said Crapo. “SRS is essential for rural counties across Idaho and the West.”
The IIJA included a three-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program through Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. Due to an error in the IIJA, time constraints and statutory deadlines restricted counties’ abilities to divide their SRS payments. The error would have forced counties to split funding between SRS Title I--funding for roads and schools--and Title II--projects on or to benefit federal land within the county--while no funding could go toward Title III projects such as wildfire preparedness, planning and emergency services.
The technical fix applies to FY2021 only, and counties will be able to make elections for FY2022 and FY2023.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act was enacted in 2000 to financially assist counties with public, tax-exempt forestlands. Since then, Risch, Crapo, and Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have worked to give SRS a more permanent role in assisting rural counties with large tracts of federal lands.
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