Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Senate passes extension of Secure Rural Schools program to help struggling rural timber counties

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program, Andy Giegerich reports for the Portland Business Journal. The House passed a similar bill last month. The program, which provides funding for rural schools that have struggled to make up shortfalls because of declines in the timber industry, awarded about $270 million to 729 counties in 2014, but the $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed in December did not include funds for the program.

Oregon's rural counties faced payment cuts of more than 50 percent if the program was cancelled, Giegerich writes. The program brings $85 million to the state's rural counties.

In Oregon, the forest sector accounts for about 58,000 jobs and $12.7 billion to the economy. The forest industry in Pennsylvania includes about 90,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in annual revenue. And in Washington, where half of the state is forested, the industry creates 107,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in annual wages. (Daily Yonder map: Estimated payments that counties received from the Secure Rural Schools program in FY 2013. For an interactive version, click here)

No comments: