Timber payments expire with no fix in sight



GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal law that has sent billions of dollars to schools and counties in timber country is expiring, and there is no clear picture of what lies ahead.

The Secure Rural Schools Act formally expires Friday and the final payments are expected to go out to schools and counties in 41 states this December and January.

Sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices are particularly hard hit, because public safety is the biggest chunk of discretionary spending in many county budgets.

Curry County in Oregon is projecting a $3 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2013.

Four different proposals are floating in Congress, ranging from renewing the payments at a lower level, to allowing more logging on national forests to fill the revenue gap.

There is no clear front-runner.