BOISE--Members of Idaho’s congressional delegation and State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth announced Idaho counties will receive a total of $23.4 million in payments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 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. That means Idaho schools will receive roughly $7 million, and Idaho roads and other county projects will receive roughly $16.4 million for FY 2021.
The U.S. Forest Service, and in some cases, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management administers the funds. The totals are based on a formula that takes into account economic activity, timber harvest levels and other considerations that vary from county to county. SRS payments are critical to maintaining 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.
“This funding is so valuable to our rural schools and infrastructure. My office looks forward to getting these dollars into the hands of our Idaho counties to further opportunities for our rural areas,” said Idaho Treasurer Julie Ellsworth. “A big thank you to Senators Crapo and Risch as well as Congressmen Simpson and Fulcher for securing this appropriation for Idaho.”
“SRS payments are essential for rural counties across Idaho and the West, but a permanent solution is needed,” said Senator Mike Crapo. “Adequate funding for schools, roads and infrastructure repair will only be guaranteed once we can reach agreement on a self-contained funding mechanism outside the yearly votes in Congress, and we are working toward the goal of a more permanent solution.”
“I’m pleased we were able to secure this SRS funding for Idaho’s rural counties, but more needs to be done,” said Senator Jim Risch. “The federal government has an obligation to the communities that count on the SRS program. We owe it to them to find a lasting solution.”
“SRS payments are critical in funding Idaho schools and infrastructure, and I am pleased to see this funding come to our state,” said Representative Mike Simpson. “This is essentially the federal government’s property tax for counties where there are large amounts of federal land. If you don’t have the ability to collect local property taxes, these programs are necessary to provide funding for schools, roads, and other local services – especially in Idaho’s rural counties.”
“For years, local governments and schools in rural counties in Idaho have experienced strained budgets due to immense federal land ownership in the West,” said Representative Russ Fulcher. “These areas take a big hit because so much of the land in their jurisdiction is not taxable. While this year’s funding is positive, the short-term nature of these announcements can cause issues for these communities and schools in making long-term plans. Looking forward, it is imperative that Congress prioritize a long-term, predictable solution for PILT and SRS to assist these counties.”
For more information about the administration of public funds by the State Treasurer’s Office (STO), visit the STO’s website at www.sto.idaho.gov.