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Governors Urge Congress to Boost Funding for Rural Schools Program

The National Governors Association is pushing Congress to increase spending on a program designed to aid rural schools that are impacted by federal lands. 

In a statement issued Wednesday, the NGA said that lawmakers should restore cuts to the Secure Rural Schools program that have taken place over the last year—the governors want money put back into SRS in the fiscal 2017 budget and extended through fiscal 2018. The NGA wants SRS funding restored to fiscal 2015 levels.

We wrote about the SRS earlier this month. Funding dropped from $278 million in fiscal 2015 to $58 million in fiscal 2016. SRS affects 9 million students in about 4,400 districts. The biggest state beneficiaries of the program, which is linked to revenue derived from timber harvests on federal lands, include Oregon, California, and Idaho. 

"The pillars of SRS—education, transportation and public safety—are also the pillars of state and local governments. States and the rural communities they serve depend on every dollar of SRS to mitigate the financial burden caused by lost tax revenue from timber harvests on federal lands," the NGA said in its statement.

The federal spending measure that covers fiscal 2017 expires on Friday, and Congress is still negotiating how to fund the rest of the budget year. President Donald Trump's preliminary budget proposal for fiscal 2018, which will begin Oct. 1, doesn't mention SRS. 

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