Proposal To Change How Secure Rural Schools Act Is Funded Would Impact Idaho Counties

Sep 17, 2018

An Idaho and Oregon senator are considering changes to how rural schools are funded.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R) and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) are longtime champions of the Secure Rural Schools Act, which was passed almost 20 years ago. The law gives counties with Forest Service land within their borders an added boost of revenue for education, since federal land isn’t taxable.

But there’s no guarantee that there will be money to distribute – and some years counties have received nothing from the feds. There’s no permanent Congressional appropriation for the law, which creates a lot of uncertainty.

“This proposal would establish a new endowment," says Mark Haggerty with Montana-based Headwaters Economics, "that would receive an initial investment from Congress and then also would receive annual receipts [from timber sold from Forest Service land] that would be invested.”

Haggerty says he's talked with county commissioners in western states that like the idea of a reliable source of funding.

But, the proposal is at its infancy – Crapo and Wyden are considering the idea. Haggerty says gathering local support is the first step.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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