Hastings’ Impact Aid Proposals Advance
Feb 28, 2012 -
Today, the House Committee on Education and Workforce passed H.R. 3990 the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act. Included in this legislation were two critical provisions supported by Congressman Doc Hastings to reform the Impact Aid program so that it better serves federally impacted schools in Central Washington and throughout the nation.
First, this bill includes language from H.R. 3896, which was introduced by Hastings on February 2nd of this year to ensure that the most federally impacted school districts are eligible to apply for emergency assistance for school construction projects. Specifically, this language 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.
“Over 33 percent of Central Washington is federally owned, and I believe that the federal government has an obligation to ensure that this does not negatively impact our students’ education,” said Hastings. “ I appreciate Chairman Kline’s willingness to uphold the federal government’s responsibility to these students by ensuring that school districts that are unable to secure a construction bond due to the impact of federal land ownership are eligible to compete for these grants.”
The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act also incorporates language from H.R. 2094, which was introduced by Congressman Rick Larsen and Congressman Hastings in June of last year, to address chronic late payments through the Impact Aid program. Currently, school districts wait as long as five to six years after the initial award to receive the full funding they are owed by the Department of Education. This bipartisan proposal would require the Department of Education to allocate the full amount of Impact Aid funding due to school districts no later than two fiscal years following the initial fiscal year in which Impact Aid funding was appropriated.
“I have heard from many Impact Aid school districts in Central Washington that depend on Impact Aid payments for things as basic as paying teachers and providing basic educational programs,” said Hastings. “I am pleased that Chairman Kline has included this provision to hold the Department of Education accountable for distributing these funds in a timely manner.”
Neither of these provisions increase federal spending.
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 federal land ownership and federally impacted students. There are currently over 1,300 federally impacted school districts across the country serving 15 million students. In Washington’s fourth district Glenwood, Grand Coulee Dam, Granger, Kennewick, Mabton, Mt. Adams, Quincy, Richland, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Wapato School districts are affected by the Impact Aid program.