By Portland Business Journal

Oregon⿿s federal representatives have united in support of continuing so-called ⿿county payments⿝ to Oregon⿿s rural governments.

Republican Rep. Greg Walden joined Democratic House members Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Kurt Schrader ⿿ along with U.S. senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden ⿿ in saying the payments are ⿿essential to ensuring a lifeline for Oregon⿿s rural communities.⿝

The payments subsidize counties in the West that canâ¿¿t collect timber harvest taxes when work is performed on public lands.

The Oregon delegation is backing what it touts as "bipartisan legislation" to extend the program for five years.

Oregon counties are set to receive $201 million from the program this year. Without it, such counties as Douglas and Jackson could need to cut essential services, such as public safety and health care.

⿿In the current budget environment, renewing even essential programs is an uphill battle,⿝ the officials said in a joint statement. ⿿But without the financial certainty offered by the county payments program, there is no future for Oregon⿿s rural counties.⿝

Walden originally co-authored the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, which launched the program.

The program is set to expire next year. | 503-219-3419 | @AndyGiegerich

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