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Larsen: Bipartisan Bill Will Help Students in Schools That Serve Military Bases and Indian Tribes

Local school districts that serve military families and Indian tribes would continue to receive critical funding as a result of a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, and Rep. Kristi Noem, SD. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2015 (H.R. 1318) would continue funding for Impact Aid, which provides payments to school districts that serve large numbers of military families and Indian tribes.

“Impact Aid provides critical support to schools in Coupeville, La Conner, Marysville and Oak Harbor to make sure students have the best opportunities to succeed today and in the future. This bipartisan bill ensures permanent, on-time payments for school districts where federal activity like military bases limits funding available to public schools through property taxes,” Larsen said.

The majority of public school funding comes from local property taxes. Families on military bases and on Indian lands do not pay local property taxes, and localities do not collect taxes from lands owned by the federal government such as national forests, denying local schools their traditional funding source. Impact Aid makes up the difference, providing direct payments to school districts that serve large numbers of federally-connected students.

“In the past, bureaucratic red tape has delayed critical Impact Aid payments to South Dakota schools, making it difficult to meet needs of South Dakota’s young people,” said Noem.  “The concepts in this bipartisan legislation will help cut through that red tape and continue to deliver critical education dollars to our schools more quickly and efficiently – now and long into the future.”

The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2015 will:

  • Make the Impact Aid program permanent;
  • Require the Department of Education to make Impact Aid payments to school districts within three years;
  • Standardize Impact Aid eligibility for districts with at least 45 percent federally-connected students;
  • Eliminate uncertainty and ensure equity in funding distribution by improving how federal land is valued.

Larsen has long advocated for Impact Aid. He successfully included his Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act, though the provision was not permanent. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2015 would enact this provision permanently.

Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Lance Gibbon endorsed the legislation and thanked Larsen for his leadership on the bill.

“Congressman Larsen's efforts to ensure timely Impact Aid payments has helped provide a more reliable and predictable funding stream to our schools,” Gibbon said. “Impact Aid is essential to ensure that all of our students get the education they need and deserve in Oak Harbor.”

The text of the bill is available here. Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and John Thune, R-SD, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Learn more about the Impact Aid program here.