Thursday, September 25, 2008

Timber-county payments back on chopping block

Rural counties that have relied on federal payments to compensate them for restriction of timbering in national forests may have to get along without the money. A Senate amendment to to a huge spending bill would have resumed the payments, but the House rejected the amendment after White House objections.

"The timber law provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon, Idaho and other states, mostly in the West, that once depended on federal timber sales to pay for schools, libraries and other services in rural areas," writes Matthew Daly of The Associated Press. "The law helps pay for schools and services in 700 counties in 39 states. Without the money, teachers and law enforcemeent officers in rural districts throughout the country could lose their jobs."

The measure called for "$2.1 billion reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, commonly known as 'county payments.' The bill also provides $1.7 billion for a separate program that compensates states for lost tax revenue from federally owned land," adds Daly. The bill had bipartisan support mostly from senators from Western states, where the payments are most important, especially in Oregon.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said, "It is outrageous that the president is willing to borrow $465 million for foreign aid, the majority of which is going to the Republic of Georgia, and $700 billion to bail out his Wall Street buddies, but he is turning his back on schools, law enforcement and other vital public services in rural communities."(Read more) For Daly's earlier story, click here.

No comments: