Press Releases

Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2007 Emergency Supplemental bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today includes an additional $425 million to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act for one year, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced. This emergency funding is in additional to the $100 million that would otherwise have been available from timber harvest receipts.

Last year, California’s rural counties received a total $69 million under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. For example:

  • Siskiyou County received $9.58 million;
  • Trinity County: $7.99 million;
  • Plumas County: $7.5 million;
  • Shasta County: $4.15 million; and
  • Lassen County: $4.01 million.

Unless the program is extended, counties in California would receive only approximately $12 million from forest timber receipts, or less than 20 percent of their current funding. 

“Last year, California’s most rural communities received $69 million to fund their schools and road and forest improvement projects from the Secure Rural Schools Program.  But if the program is not extended, California’s most rural counties would lose $57 million this year alone. This could result in school closures, teacher layoffs, and some schools could even face bankruptcy or face state takeover. We simply cannot allow that to happen,” Senator Feinstein said. “So, the $425 million approved by the Committee today gives California’s rural schools breathing room by funding an additional year of the program.”

Authorizing a Multiyear Extension of the Secure Rural Schools Program

Earlier this week, Senator Feinstein announced her support for a bipartisan, multi-year proposal to restore funding for the Secure Rural Schools and commonly known as the county payments law.

The proposal is expected to be offered as an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill on the floor of the Senate.  Under this proposal, California’s counties would receive $283 million from Fiscal Year 2007 – Fiscal Year 2011. 

“We still face an uphill battle to provide these rural counties with a stable funding stream so that they are not in the same situation next year. So, I am working with a bipartisan coalition to help ensure that we authorize funding to fund the Secure Rural Schools Program for an additional 4 years. California’s rural counties would be in dire straits without this program,” Senator Feinstein said. 

Senator Feinstein’s Role

Earlier versions of the multiyear proposal to extend the program that will be considered next week would have cut California’s share in the first year by approximately 13 percent – a total of $9 million.

Based on Senator Feinstein’s efforts, the proposal was revised to hold California harmless in the first year.  Feinstein also fought to include a provision that requires that counties would receive only gradual reductions in secure rural school funding over the next five years, rather than a sudden, catastrophic loss of funds.

5-year Proposal

The proposal—which includes approximately $5 billion for rural schools, counties and communities through 2012—is being offered for bipartisan consideration by Senator Feinstein together with Senators Harry Reid, Ron Wyden, Max Baucus, Jeff Bingaman, Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Barbara Boxer.
The Senators’ proposal would immediately address the pending budget crisis confronting rural communities by fully funding the county payments program for 2007. 

This five-year plan gives counties a predictable stream of funding that allows counties to plan for the future.

That formula is based on the current funding formula and the current acreage of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and eligible Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, along with a mechanism to focus support on those communities in greatest economic need.

Additionally the plan includes five years of full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), which compensates states for loss of tax revenue from Federal lands in the state.  Full funding of PILT would also provide California with an estimated $11 million or more additional dollars annually on top of the $21 million California currently receives from PILT. 

About $500 million of the $5 billion package would be paid for with emergency spending in 2007 and offsets identified by the Senate Finance Committee would pay for the following four years.

Over 700 counties in 39 states received funding under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, which was allowed to expire in September 2006.  Despite repeated efforts by the Senators to reauthorize the bill last year, the Congress and Administration could not agree on a funding source for the legislation.

Summary of the Secure Rural Schools Extension and Reformulation & Full-funding for PILT

  • Provides for about $2.8 billion in funding for a multi-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (“County Payments”) and for about $2.3 billion to fully-fund PILT.
  • Provides a one year extension of the County Payments program and designates the $525 million in funding for the extension as emergency funds.
  • Provides for 4 more years of County Payments funding beyond 2007, with the total funding level gradually declining to $379 million in 2011.
  • California, Oregon, and Washington are provided additional transition funding in early years to minimize effects of the new formula and the overall decline of the total authorization level.
  • Provides for full-funding of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program from 2008 through 2012.
  • All funding beyond FY07 will be fully paid for by a combination of tax offsets.