Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) this week introduced H.R. 1342, the Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2011. This bipartisan bill is a significant update to the federal Impact Aid education program, which was endorsed by the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS).
Hawaii schools enroll more than 20,000 children whose parents are active-duty military, work on federal property, or live in federal low-rent housing. Hawaii cannot collect local property taxes from military bases or other federal properties. Impact Aid reimburses school districts for this loss in tax revenue. Nationwide, Impact Aid supports more than 12 million children in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories.
"No matter where you live, every child deserves a high-quality education--especially if your family serves our country," said Congresswoman Hirono, House Education and the Workforce Committee member. "This bill will improve flexibility, efficiency, and equity in the Impact Aid program. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle to continue to strengthen it."
The bipartisan bill was introduced with lead cosponsor Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota). Impact Aid provides an estimated $45 million annually to the Hawaii State Department of Education.
"During times of economic uncertainty and budget cutbacks, the additional federal dollars help to maintain quality teaching in the classroom and support services for students," said Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent.
The Local Taxpayer Relief Act makes the following major improvements:
· Speeds up payments by the U.S. Department of Education;
· Allows same-year payments when a troop deployment prompts a sudden influx of military children;
· Keeps military children eligible for an additional year while bases undergo housing renovation; and
· Allows states to more efficiently count the number of eligible students by using student registration data, instead of the current parent employment "source check" or survey sent home with students.