Hastings introduces Impact Aid legislation
Feb 3, 2012 -
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Doc Hastings, (WA-04) introduced HR 3896, which amends the Impact Aid program to ensure that school districts impacted by federal land ownership can apply for help in addressing health and safety concerns. Specifically, this bill extends eligibility for emergency and modernization construction grants to school districts where at least 10 percent of property is non-taxable because of federal land ownership.
“A significant percentage of land in my district is federally owned, and I have long believed that students should not suffer because the federal government has taken away a community’s taxable land,” said Hastings. “I have heard far too many stories about schools in Central Washington that are unable to address serious safety risks because they do not have the tax base to secure a construction bond, and I believe it is past time for the federal government to step up its commitments to these students.”
Current law allows schools with a percentage of federally impacted students of 40 percent or higher to become eligible for emergency construction grants. Hastings bill extends eligibility for these competitive grants to school districts where 10 percent of the property is non-taxable due to federal land ownership.
School districts must also already be participants in the Impact Aid program. Other criteria for eligibility includes difficulty in securing a bond for construction projects and the need to address a serious health or safety concern. Hastings’ bill does not increase federal spending – it simply expands the eligibility criteria for this competitive grant program to ensure that the most federally impacted schools with the most serious safety concerns are able to apply.
Impact Aid was established in 1950 to compensate school districts for the substantial and continuing financial burden resulting from the loss of tax revenue due to federally impacted students and federal land ownership. There are currently over 1,300 federally impacted school districts across the country serving 15 million children that rely heavily on funding from the Impact Aid Program. In Washington’s fourth district Glenwood, Grand Coulee Dam, Granger, Kennewick, Mabton, Mt. Adams, Quincy, Richland, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Wapato School districts qualify for Impact Aid program.
Read the bill text here.