Idaho getting $22.8-million SRS funding

Julie Ellsworth
Julie Ellsworth

U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (both R-Idaho), along with Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Idaho State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, announced Idaho counties will receive a total of $22.8 million in payments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 under the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. Under Idaho law, 30 percent of the SRS funding goes to counties to help with schools and the remaining 70 percent is earmarked for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.

The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management administer the funds. The totals are based on a formula including economic activity, timber harvest levels and other considerations that vary from county to county. SRS payments are critical to maintain education programs for many rural counties that contain federal lands exempt from property taxes. Idaho received the third-highest total in the U.S., behind California and Oregon.

“The federal government has hindered timber production on federal lands for decades, and Idahoans continue to pay the price,” said Risch. “Communities that would have once funded schools and infrastructure with timber revenue no longer have that option. I’m pleased we were able to secure SRS authorization and funding for Idaho’s rural counties, but we must continue to fight for a lasting solution and bring timber production back to its historic levels.”

“I am deeply grateful for our delegation’s efforts to secure this appropriation for Idaho,” said Ellsworth. “I appreciate their hard work, as the SRS program is vital funding for our rural communities. My office will be actively working to distribute these dollars out to Idaho counties in the next few weeks.”

Crapo is a long-time advocate for alleviating uncertainty for rural county governments in the SRS program. Congress has extended and amended the Secure Rural Schools program multiple times. It was last extended for three years through 2023 and is due for renewal. In December, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ passed legislation Crapo introduced with fellow U.S. Senators Risch, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) to extend the program through 2026.