Tipton: Coloradans Deserve Answers from Administration on SRS Raid

Sep 4, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Taxes

WASHINGTON–Today, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) stressed that Coloradans deserve answers from the Administration on its decision to implement retroactive reductions to 2012 Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments under the 2013 sequestration.  The House Natural Resources Committee, today, issued subpoenas to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Office of Management and Budget for documents related to the Administration’s decision to retroactively impose 2013 sequester cuts to 2012 Secure Rural School (SRS) payments already being paid to the states, which amounted to a loss of $786,915 for Colorado.

“Many rural communities in my district use SRS payments to fund education, public safety and infrastructure repairs. For these communities, these payments make all the difference in their ability to provide essential services,” Tipton said. “By retroactively cutting SRS funds that were already paid to the states, the Administration acted to make sequestration as painful as possible and has jeopardized the wellbeing of rural communities. Coloradans deserve answers into the Administration’s decision-making process to strip rural communities of vital funds. So far the Administration has refused to provide information on its decision or an explanation of the legal authority for its actions. I am hopeful that these subpoenas will bring us closer to getting answers, and ultimately lead to the return of the SRS payments back to the states.”

Tipton joined colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in March urging that the Administration to immediately halt this action and explain the legal authority for retroactively raiding 2012 funds already paid to states.

“We request that this action be halted.  It retroactively takes funds that are already being used for rural schools, emergency services, infrastructure, and protecting communities from the risk of catastrophic wildfire,” the members wrote. “We also request a detailed explanation of the legal authority for demanding repayment of the FY12 funds that have already been paid out by the federal government.”

Read the full letter here.

This letter and follow-up requests for information and an explanation of the legal authority for the retroactive taking of SRS payments under sequestration have gone unanswered by the Administration.

From the House Natural Resources Committee:

The specific documents and information sought in the subpoenas include:

  1. All records concerning any legal analysis or policy alternatives prepared or considered in connection to the application of the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended, to retroactively sequester money paid to states in FY 2013 pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools program.
  2. All records concerning communications to, from, or otherwise involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Office of Management and Budget concerning application of the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended, to retroactively sequester money paid to states in FY 2013 pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools program.
  3. All records, including any drafts containing edits, comments, or revisions thereto, of any press releases, talking points, or communication documents concerning application of the Budget Control Act of 2011, as amended, to retroactively sequester money paid to states in FY 2013 pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools program.
  4. All records concerning the imposition of penalties against states for failure to repay money received in FY 2013 pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools program.
  5. All records concerning the timing of the decision, announced January 15, 2013 by the U.S. Forest Service, to disburse money to states pursuant to the Secure Rural Schools program.