Senior Republican Leads Effort to Support Rural Schools and Communities

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Recently Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement after sending a letter to Congressional Leadership urging them to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Communities (SRS) program:

“There are approximately 675,000 acres of the National Forest System in Texas, and the Eighth Congressional District alone is home to both the Sam Houston and Davy Crockett National Forests. Unfortunately, because of the decrease in timber revenue, the rural communities built around these forests lack the funds to invest in the critical services they need.

“That’s why the SRS is so important; it gives our forested communities stable funding to support local law enforcement, provide safe infrastructure, and expand access to quality education for rural Texas students.

“Our rural communities are an integral part of Texas – and they shouldn’t suffer because of federal inaction. That’s why I’m proud to have led this bipartisan letter to prioritize the security and prosperity of our rural population, both in Texas and across the nation.”

Across the Eighth Congressional District of Texas, local leaders are voicing their support for Congressman Brady’s efforts:

“I would like to thank Congressman Brady for his work on the Secure Rural Schools & Community Act,” said Don Hamilton, Groveton ISD Superintendent. “It is a great help to small schools like Groveton ISD.  We have nearly 40,000 acres of National Forest in our district that we will not receive any compensation. This would be a great benefit.”

“SRS funding is absolutely vital to our rural Counties and Schools – and it’s the right thing to do. It represents the fulfillment of a commitment made to our rural communities when huge blocks of land were taken off the tax rolls to create the National Forests,” said Lonnie Hunt, Deep East Texas Council of Governments Executive Director. “These Counties and Schools have no other way to make up the lost revenue.  Without SRS, their only alternatives are to reduce important services or raise local taxes. We are so thankful for the leadership provided by Rep. Brady on this issue, and for other Members like Rep. Gohmert and Rep. Babin who are also working to protect our rural communities.”

“Crockett ISD would like to thank Congressman Brady for his efforts to address the funding shortages produced when harvesting timber in our National Forests was curtailed,” said Terry Myers, Crockett ISD Superintendent. “Our communities experienced a major economic and population loss when this occurred. Thank you, Kevin Brady, for being a champion for our schools.”

A big thank you to Representative Brady for his help on SRS,” said Grover Worsham, Trinity County Commissioner PCT 1. Small rural counties and school districts such as Trinity co and the schools within cannot survive without this legislation.”

“Walker County Commissioners Court and the taxpayers of Walker County send our appreciation and thanks for the re-authorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Act,” said Danny Pierce, Walker County Judge. This funding helps Walker County in so many ways – we thank you for your leadership and continued support to rural Texas.”

Co-signers of Congressman Brady’s letter also voiced their support for SRS:

Reauthorizing the SRS program would provide vital resources for Southwestern Oregon counties which rely on the program to fund education, infrastructure, and law enforcement needs,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, (OR-04). “Until we can provide these communities with the economic certainty they need while protecting our natural resources, it’s imperative that we continue these vital payments.”

“The Secure Rural Schools and Communities program is of vital importance for counties across Wyoming, providing critical resources for schools and other services that are necessary for our state. It’s crucial for the House of Representatives to reauthorize this program to ensure that rural communities have the tools they need to fund key priorities. I’m proud to sign on to this letter and to continue fighting relentlessly for the rural communities across Wyoming and the nation,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). 

“For the past two decades, the Secure Rural Schools & Community Program has provided the tools and resources necessary to rural communities to help maximize the success of the students in those areas,” said Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36)“I support the reauthorization of this program and will continue working to ensure rural communities, like those in East Texas, are equipped with what they need to succeed.”

“Access to educational opportunities is vital to growing our economy, opening doors for young people and driving innovation across all industries,” said Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), who represents 29 counties across South and West Texas. “Our students’ ability to receive a quality education should not be hindered by their background, where they grew up or their socioeconomic status. As the Representative of many rural areas across South and West Texas I’m proud to join Reps. Brady and DeFazio in this bipartisan effort to make sure the Secure Rural Schools program can continue helping our rural school districts in TX-23 and across the nation.”

“The Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program provides critical financial certainty to many of the rural counties here in Eastern Washington. It is fundamental to their livelihood. Unfortunately, this program is currently expired. These counties rely on SRS funding to provide basic services and we must take action to ensure these rural, timber-dependent communities don’t get left behind,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05).

“While the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program is an important step in providing steady payments to counties for nontaxable U.S. Forest Service land, Congress needs to come together to find a long-term legislative solution that continues and improves revenue sharing payments to counties,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Shrinking payments from the Secure Rural School program can be supplemented with increased timber harvesting of our renewable resources and sales. National forest receipts (subject to sharing) declined from their peak of $1.44 billion in FY1989 to a low of $182.3 million in FY2009—a drop of 87%. Increasing timber harvesting provides lumber for construction, increases revenue to rural schools, lessens the chance of dangerous fires by reducing fuels, provides jobs, is a viable carbon sequestration strategy, and is renewable.” 

“Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding helps Oregon’s forested communities pay for essential services like schools, roads, and law enforcement,” said Rep. Greg Walden (OR-02). “SRS has never replaced the dramatic reduction in federal timber revenue over the last 30 years, but it does provide some level of support. Last year we passed the most significant reform to forest policy in a decade to help improve the management of our forests. While this is progress toward reversing the decades long decline in timber revenue, an extension of SRS is needed to ensure counties have a safety-net as we work to further improve forest management and utilize our natural resources to provide sustainable jobs and revenue to Oregon’s rural communities.”

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