ok County and the Crook County School District received a lump of coal this week, with the announcement that Congress has adjourned for the Christmas break without reauthorizing the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which is a critical funding program for county roads and schools.
It's extremely frustrating and disappointing that Congress could not approve this much-needed measure before they recessed for the holidays. A joint letter sent to Congressional leadership by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Gordon Smith and Congressmen Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden, Darlene Hooley, David Wu and Earl Blumenauer points out the need.
"We have attached a copy of the letter sent by the National Governors Association urging your immediate support for reauthorization of this program," the senators and congressmen wrote. "Clearly, a law important enough to be supported by all 50 state governors...deserves our collective attention in the last hours of the 109th Congress."
They added, "please keep faith with the 100-year-old promise made to our forest-dependent rural schools and communities."
We agree, but now it's time for the 110th Congress to make this a key priority. The money provided by this act goes to help fund Crook County roads and schools.
The positive in the situation is that Wyden will now be chairman of the Senate Forests Subcommittee. That's appropriate because he was the original author of the bill that created the act.
It's our hope that with Wyden in a leadership position, he can continue the good work done by Walden.
In an excellent example of bipartisanship, we know Walden and Wyden have been working hard on reauthorizing the legislation and we hope Smith will continue in his efforts.
More than anything, we hope that our congressional leaders can make the state of Oregon's case clear and get this passed in 2007.