Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Lassen) announced Monday that he has introduced legislation to encourage the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the federal Secure Rural Schools Act.
“The Secure Rural Schools Act fulfills a commitment made by the federal government to rural counties,” Dahle said in the announcement. “We need to ensure that the federal government continues that commitment as it is vital to educating our children and providing good and safe roads in California’s rural communities.”
The Secure Rural Schools Act, first enacted by Congress in 2000, allows forest counties throughout the country to receive payments based on pre-2000 levels of timber harvesting activity on federal lands.
In California, these federal payments are made to the state and then forwarded primarily to schools and counties. Counties use these funds for their road programs.
Since 2006, the act has been reauthorized several times, including last June when Congress granted a one-year extension. Unless re-authorized sometime this year, the program will expire and payments to forest counties will cease.
“This program is vital to rural counties, such as Nevada County, in ensuring a healthy road network and a quality education,” said Nate Beason, a Nevada County supervisor and a member of the board of directors for the Rural County Representatives of California, in a statement.
With the assistance RCRC, an advocacy association of 32 rural California counties, Dahle introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 9 to urge the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to continue this federal program. The Secure Rural Schools Act is administered by the U.S. Forest Service and provides nearly $35.7 million to counties and school districts throughout California’s forested counties.
In November, Assemblyman Dahle was elected to represent the 1st Assembly District, which contains all of Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou and Shasta counties and portions of Butte and Placer counties.
Each of these counties receives a portion of SRS funds, and many of these counties rely on SRS payments for nearly one third of their entire public works department budgets.