Reid Discusses Commitment To Funding Rural Communities With Oregon Speaker Merkley And Senate Democrats
March 13, 2008
Washington, D.C.—Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Senators Jeff Bingaman, Ron Wyden, Max Baucus and Charles Schumer met with Oregon Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley today to discuss legislation that would restore funding for rural schools and counties across the country.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 provided funding for more than 700 counties in 42 states, but the Republican-led Congress allowed it to expire in September 2006. Senator Reid and other western Democrats have been fighting to put in place a multi-year reauthorization of this program to help communities across the nation. Nearly every Nevada county will see increased benefits from Secure Rural Schools under the revised program that Senator Reid helped broker. Additionally, the legislation includes substantial increases in Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding. PILT is a program that brings funding to counties with large amounts of federal land to help compensate for their inability to collect taxes on those vast areas.
"These programs are critical for states like Nevada, where 87 percent of the land is owned by the federal government," Reid said. "Our western Democrats – including Senators Bingaman, Baucus, Wyden, Feinstein, Murray and Cantwell – are providing essential leadership at the federal level to ensure these counties get the support they need, and Speaker Merkley has long been a champion of these programs for the people of Oregon. Every dollar matters to these rural communities and Democrats remain committed to providing them."
Said Wyden: "I appreciate Speaker Merkley taking the opportunity to keep the desperate need to reauthorize county payments squarely on the Majority Leader's radar screen. Jeff certainly understands first-hand the hardship Oregon faces if we don't get this resolved soon."