Larsen Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Help Students in Schools Serving Military Bases and Indian Tribes

Jun 6, 2013 Issues: Education, Tribes

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, is the lead cosponsor of a bipartisan bill introduced today that will provide critical funding to schools that serve military families and Indian tribes. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013, which Larsen cosponsored with Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota, continues funding for Impact Aid, which provides payments to school districts that serve large numbers of military families and Indian tribes.

“Without Impact Aid, schools in Oak Harbor, Marysville and La Conner would not be able to keep teachers and textbooks in classrooms,” Larsen said. “This bipartisan bill will provide permanent reliable funding to our schools, allowing them to provide the best opportunities to our students today and well into the future.”

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, 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.

“It’s important that we level the playing field for these districts who experience a lower local property tax base due to this federal land or educate federally connected students,” Noem said. “I was proud to work with Rep. Larsen in crafting this common-sense, bipartisan bill to make sure we are supporting our schools and students.”

The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013 will:

  • Make the Impact Aid program permanent;
  • Require the Department of Education to make Impact Aid payments to school districts within three years;
  • Make school districts whose student bodies consist at least 45 percent federally-connected students eligible for Impact Aid;
  • Make it easier for school districts to receive the grant funding they need to make major school repairs.

Larsen successfully included his Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. But that provision is due to expire. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013 will make that provision permanent.

The Oak Harbor School District receives more than 10 percent of its funds from Impact Aid. Superintendent Rick Schulte endorsed the legislation and thanked Larsen for his leadership on the bill.

“Congressman Larsen has been a leader on Impact Aid since the day he was elected and has been extremely helpful to Oak Harbor schools,” Schulte said.

The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) also endorsed the bill.

“We thank the sponsors of this bill and urge members of Congress to consider cosponsoring this important piece of legislation that is a critical lifeline for federally impacted schools,” said NAFIS Executive Director John Forkenbrock.

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

Learn more about the Impact Aid program here.