Temporary deal struck to prop up rural funding amid logging-revenue decline
What happens if you make funding for rural schools and roads dependent on revenues from a declining resource industry? What’s that you say? Nobody would be stupid enough to do that? Ha ha. Readers, meet the federal government. A federal program that had tied rural funding to logging revenue led, as logging revenues declined, to rural counties scrambling for funding for basic services. In 2000, a federal law began guaranteeing continued payments tied to past (higher) logging levels. Whew. But wait! Then someone in the Bush administration suggested phasing out the guaranteed payments and instead selling off some 309,000 acres of public forestlands to fund the shortfall. Not surprisingly, that approach was met with skepticism and derision. Enter the current deal: the Bush administration has agreed to sustain current funding (over $500 million) for a year, with funds from … some unspecified other source. After that, it hopes people will stop paying attention, and then God knows what it will do.