Press Releases

President Signs Funding Measure for Four-Year Extension of Secure Rural Schools Program

- Provision included in national economic rescue plan -

Washington, DC – The President today signed into law a measure to provide $1.645 billion for a four-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced. The bill also includes a provision to authorize $1.684 billion for four-year funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. That’s a total of approximately $3.3 billion in funding for rural communities.

The measure was included in the economic rescue legislation package approved by the House of Representatives earlier today, and approved by the Senate on October 1. The President signed the bill into law this afternoon. 
“Congress today finally broke the logjam holding up a long-term extension of the Secure Rural School Program and the President has now signed this bill into law. This is terrific news for the 3,500 schools and three million school children in California that depend on this funding program,” Senator Feinstein said. “The stakes couldn’t have been higher for California’s rural counties. Without this vital federal assistance, California’s rural counties would have faced a funding shortfall of $57 million this year alone. So, this new law will prevent the permanent lay off of over a thousand schoolteachers, the elimination of important academic and after school programs, and even the closure of some schools. This is a major victory for California.”

Secure Rural Schools

The Secure Rural Schools program provides critical funding to counties for their school and road improvement programs. The program was established in 2000 to help rural counties adjacent to U.S. national forest lands cope with a sharp decline in revenue from federal forest timber sales. The authorization for the program expired in 2006, and Congress has approved funding for one-year extensions since then.

The $1.6 billion included in this bill is in addition to the $100 million in annual funding that would otherwise have been available from timber harvest receipts.

California received $69 million from this program for the 2007-2008 school year.  But if the program wasn’t extended, 39 counties in California -- including Sierra, Trinity, Plumas and Siskiyou -- would have received less than 20 percent of current funding, or approximately $12 million. That's a loss of $57 million for the 2008-2009 school year for the 3,500 schools, three million school children, and other important county road improvement projects in California that depend on this federal funding.  

For example:

  • Siskiyou County received $9.58 million (65 schools in the county); 
  • Trinity County: $7.99 million (25 schools); 
  • Plumas County: $7.5 million (12 schools); 
  • El Dorado County: $4.18 million (64 schools);  
  • Shasta County: $4.15 million (103 schools);  
  • Lassen County: $4.01 million (34 schools);
  • Modoc County: $3.45 million (21 schools); 
  • Del Norte County: $3.06 million (12 schools); 
  • Fresno: $2.84 million (337 schools);
  • Tehama County:  $2.47 million (47 schools); 
  • Humboldt County: $2.18 million (83 schools);
  • Sierra County: $1.9 million (7 schools);
  • Placer:  $1.7 million (112 schools); and
  • Tulare County: $1 million (191 schools).

The new law will authorize a four-year phase down of the funding provided by the program. It will also designate additional transition funding for California, Oregon, and Washington during the first three years, in order to minimize the effects of the overall decline of the total authorization level in the fourth year.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)

The PILT program compensates States for the loss of tax revenue from Federal lands in the State. The $1.684 billion in funding approved by this bill would also provide California with additional dollars, on top of the $21 million California currently receives from the PILT program.  This program is especially important for rural counties with heavy concentrations of federal lands that reduce their available tax base.