Bennet, Gardner urge leadership to pass Secure Rural Schools Program

Author: Colorado Politics - December 7, 2017 - Updated: December 7, 2017

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., right, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., stand together during a tour of the Colorado Highlands Wind farm, in Fleming, northeastern Colorado, Saturday, June 20, 2015. In addition to the wind farm, the two senators spent the day together visiting with wheat farmers. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Colorado’s U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner are urging Senate leaders to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program by the year’s end to avoid cuts in funding to rural public schools.

The Secure Rural Schools program, which expired in 2015, supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services and other essential county services throughout the country. Bennet has introduced legislation to restore that funding for schools in 43 Colorado counties.

Last year Colorado received $11.8 million in SRS funding from 2015 revenues, Bennet’s office reports.

Without the program’s funding in 2016, Colorado counties saw an average 52 percent decrease in payments — a loss of $6.2 million dollars for essential services and schools in rural counties, Bennet says.

“The SRS program continues to be a critical safety-net for forest counties as we work to diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that our forests provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for local economies,” Bennet and other senators wrote in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer.

“In the interest of working together in a bipartisan way to support local rural communities, we ask that you include a reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools in any end-of-the-year legislation. We appreciate your assistance with this matter.”

A total of 35 senators signed the letter; a copy of the letter is available here.

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.