NM Counties Get $11 Million In School Payments

New Mexico – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRWG) Nearly two dozen New Mexico counties will share more than $11 million in federal rural schools payments.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help pay for schools, roads, forest restoration projects and other programs in 22 counties.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman says the payments are designed to help rural counties that rely economically on national forest lands.

He says the payments have been particularly important during the national economic downturn.

Bingaman's office says the senator led the congressional effort to reauthorize the program in 2008. At that point, there was a change to the distribution of program funds that dramatically increased the benefits of the program to New Mexico counties.

The highest payment of more than $3.4 million will go to Catron County in western New Mexico.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. KRWG