U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young, all R-Alaska, today issued the following statements after successfully including a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in the final Appropriations measures for Fiscal Year 2020. All three delegation members are strong proponents of the program, which many Alaska communities are forced to rely on due to declining timber receipts from surrounding federal lands.
“From the Kenai Peninsula to Yakutat to Wrangell, this is a win for rural communities throughout our state which can now budget for two more years of school funding, emergency response, and road maintenance,” said Murkowski. “We worked methodically to ensure this extension would be included in a year-end package. And while we welcome it as a needed dose of short-term certainty, we will continue our push for a lasting solution – reasonable access for responsible resource production on federal lands.”
“Secure Rural Schools funding has been a lifeline for many Southeast Alaskan communities, enabling them to meet the most basic needs of their residents in the midst of a declining timber harvest,” said Senator Sullivan. “I’m glad to see a renewal of SRS included in the end-of-year spending agreement, providing greater fiscal certainty for many local governments across our state, and honoring the federal government’s commitment for another two years.”
“The SRS program has been critical to funding schools, infrastructure, and first-responders. Therefore, it is crucially important that this program is protected,” said Congressman Don Young. “I am very pleased to see a two-year extension of the SRS program included in these final government funding bills, but there is more work ahead to ensure that our communities and their schools are adequately funded. As Alaskans, we can be trusted to both responsibly develop our resources and protect the environment. I will keep working with the Alaska Delegation to ensure that our communities can access the resources they need while supporting the long-term success of the SRS program.”
In early October, Murkowski and Sullivan joined 29 of their Senate colleagues on a bipartisan letter urging Senate leadership to renew SRS and fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in any year-end appropriations measure. The PILT program, which is also critical for many Alaska communities, is fully funded in the Interior Appropriations bill.Last week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reported S. 430, a bill to extend SRS for two years, paving the way for its inclusion in the year-end appropriations package. Murkowski is chairman of the committee and a cosponsor of the bipartisan measure.