Cantwell Announces Secure Rural Schools Funding For Washington State

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced that the U.S. Forest Service will provide nearly $18.3 million in Secure Rural School payments to communities in Washington State.

Previous uncertainty about the Secure Rural Schools program (SRS) made it nearly impossible for impacted local governments to plan their annual budgets. Last year, without SRS funding in place, Forest Service payments to Washington counties totaled just $2.6 million.

“Because of the large amounts of Federal land we have in the West, we are heavily impacted by the Secure Rural Schools. The Secure Rural Schools program is a lifeline for local governments--helping to strengthen schools in rural communities, to repair damaged roads, and to ensure local police and fire departments have the resources they need,“ Senator Cantwell said. “Payments, frankly, need to be a lot more predictable and stable than they have been. Getting this funding to counties across Washington will ensure communities are not left without critical resources while we are creating a permanent funding solution.”

In 2017, Senator Cantwell was among a group of four Senators that introduced a bill to reauthorize then-expired SRS.  In March 2018, Senator Cantwell served an instrumental role in getting the reauthorization of SRS in the Omnibus. Because of those efforts, new SRS payments are being disbursed this week.  SRS payments provide critical revenues to more than 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools throughout the country, impacting 9 million students across 41 states. The federal government has long recognized its obligation to these counties, and Congress must provide these counties the resources they need to serve their populations.

Through the reauthorization of SRS, Washington counties including Chelan, Lewis, Okanogan and Yakima will receive, this week, over $1 million each and Skamania will receive over $3 million.