WALDEN HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT ON JOSEPHINE COUNTY OF LOSING 'COUNTY PAYMENTS' PROGRAM
Before the full House of Representatives, Congressman Walden delivers speech outlining what is at stake for Josephine County
January 22, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today addressed the House of Representatives to explain the dire consequences facing Josephine County should funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act be discontinued. Walden and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced H.R. 17 on January 4, the first day of the 110th Congress, a bill which would reauthorize the Act for seven years. The Act expired in September 2006, and without prompt reauthorization and funding, approximately 4,400 school districts in 615 counties in 39 states will have essential federal funding severed.
The speech before the House, the third in a series of 18 that will each day focus on a specific county in Oregon’s Second Congressional District that receives funds from the essential program, follows:
“Mr. Speaker. The failure of Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act results in a broken promise to over 600 forested counties across America.
“Surely you remember the frantic search last month for James Kim and his family in the federal forests of southern Oregon. Josephine County relied on critical emergency resources in this heart-breaking effort. 90% of the county’s search and rescue budget has been funded by this federal program which has not been reauthorized.
“Likewise, the County utilizes an emergency phone notification system to alert homeowners to disasters and emergencies. They used it during the search for the Kim family.
“Sixty-five percent of Josephine County’s land base is federal. When disaster strikes, quick information and response is a matter of life and death. Failure to reauthorize means these county services may not be funded, and that’s outrageous.
“Josephine County Commissioner Dave Toler said the loss of this program “is about more than numbers, its loss will change our lives in every way for many more years to come.”
“My colleagues, it’s high time that Congress reauthorize this Act and keep the word of the Federal Government to timbered communities.”
Congressman Walden represents 20 counties in central, southern and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House Leadership Structure and a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.