WALDEN HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT ON KLAMATH COUNTY OF LOSING 'COUNTY PAYMENTS' PROGRAM
Before the full House of Representatives, Congressman Walden delivers speech outlining what is at stake for Klamath County
January 19, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today addressed the House of Representatives to explain the dire consequences facing Klamath 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 second 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. This Congress and the last have failed to keep the federal government’s commitment to the people who live near our national forests.
“This breach of faith means Greg Thede, the Klamath County School District Superintendent, is faced with the choice of letting teachers go, not purchasing English and reading books for all K though 12 programs for nearly a decade, or robbing from the school maintenance budget to cover budget shortfalls.
“The Klamath County police force of 35 officers, which currently patrols a 6000 square mile area, will be cut by one-third. This patrol area, nearly 100 times larger than the District of Columbia, will now be protected, with no back up, by a little over 20 people.
“Klamath County, Oregon is no stranger to hardship nor hard work; however, they have had to endure much of both in the last few years because the federal government keeps breaking its commitments to this rural community.
“Al Switzer, Klamath County Commissioner asked me to pass along one key point: ‘These are America’s forests, they just happen to be in Klamath County.’”
“It is time that Congress reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. Keep faith with rural schools and counties. 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.