Congress let the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expire in the fall of 2014, leaving Idaho counties and school districts with $26 million less than expected.
Idaho counties will bear the brunt of this loss. Seventy percent of Secure Rural Schools money goes to counties for things like road maintenance. Thirty percent goes to school districts.
Data from the Idaho Association of Counties shows Idaho County will lose more money than any other county, nearly $7.3 million.
Several other Idaho counties will lose more than a million dollars. That includes Boundary, Clearwater, Custer, Lemhi, Shoshone, and Valley.
Click around the map to see the payments counties had expected to receive under Secure Rural Schools, and how much they'll actually receive if the program isn't reauthorized.
Data: Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Dept. of Labor | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders
First approved by Congress in 2000, the Secure Rural Schools act pays counties that have a lot of federal timber land. That land isn’t taxable, you can’t develop it – and resource and recreation opportunities are restricted.
Now, federal-land-heavy counties will get just a fraction of what they’d planned on. Instead of the enhanced timber payments under Secure Rural Schools, counties will see 25 percent of the money made on federal timber harvests.
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has joined with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to reauthorize the payment program, and fully fund a separate support system called Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).
"I believe Secure Rural Schools funding will be needed as long as we don’t provide a way for revenue from the federal lands, to be shared with the counties, where the impacts are so high," Crapo says.
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