Late Tuesday night the United States Senate approved legislation to make retroactive payments for fiscal year 2014 and to extend payments for fiscal year 2015 to counties under the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self Determination Act (Secure Rural Schools, or SRS) program.
The House of Representatives had already passed the bill in March and President Obama is expected to sign it in to law.
The SRS extension was included in legislation overhauling Medicare payments and providing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The retroactive and extended payments will send a total of $500 million in assistance to counties through the SRS program which supports local schools, roads, law enforcement, and other critical services in more than 700 counties across 41 states.
You may recall that while funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program was included in the National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress during the Lame Duck session in December of 2014, Congress did not include funding for the SRS program at that time. Approval of SRS payments should help counties avoid budget shortfalls that would have required reduction in services without additional SRS funds.