Sonora, CA — Congressman Tom McClintock has joined a group of lawmakers calling out a decision of the Obama Administration related to the federal sequester.
$323 million was allocated in January from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. However, with the sequester taking effect earlier this month, the USDA is planning to demand $17.9 million be sent back to the federal government.
The letter signed by McClintock, and 30 other lawmakers, states, “Though the Forest Service was aware of the pending automatic spending reductions for many months, and the sequester took effect on March 1st, the agency made no mention of an impact on SRS payments until March 20th. For the Administration to announce three months after the disbursement of these payments that they are subject to the sequester, and that States will receive a bill for repayment of funds already distributed to counties, appears to be an obvious attempt by President Obama’s Administration to make the sequester as painful as possible.”
Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva is tied in closely with national efforts related to promoting the Secure Rural Schools legislation. He says there are three different levels of funding that is allocated locally. Level one goes to roads and schools, level two to the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) and level three to county programs such as Search and Rescue. Silva says the funding that would have to be refunded applies only to level two (RAC), and should not impact roads, schools or law enforcement.
The money has long been allocated to counties in forested areas to help offset years of decline to the timber industry.