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Public Statements

Introduction of the Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to introduce the Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2011, a bill to reauthorize the Impact Aid program.

* The majority of public school funding in America comes from local property taxes. However, in areas with military bases, Indian lands, national parks, federal low-rent housing, or other federal property, local school districts cannot collect needed revenue.

* Without relief: taxpayers in these federally impacted areas would need to pay more in local taxes to support the same level of education as areas with no federal impact. This is patently unfair.

* In 1950, Congress recognized the need to address this inequity and created Impact Aid, the original federal K-12 education law. Impact Aid helps local taxpayers by reimbursing school districts for the costs of hosting federal property and educating federally connected children. Today, Impact Aid supports over 12 million children in more than 1,300 school districts in all 50 states, DC, and U.S. territories.

* In Hawaii, we have Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine bases where our brave men and women in uniform are stationed. Thousands of military-dependent children are students in Hawaii schools, but our state cannot collect local taxes from these bases. No matter what type of land you live on--and especially if your family serves our nation--all our children deserve a high-quality education.

* Impact Aid is especially important now, as school districts nationwide continue to recover from the greatest recession since the Great Depression. Impact Aid funds come with few strings attached, helping districts support a wide range of vital services.

* Impact Aid is currently Title 8 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind. As we work to reauthorize ESEA in the House Education and Workforce Committee this year, I am optimistic that we can improve Impact Aid in a bipartisan way.

* My bill increases efficiency, eliminates subjectivity, and seeks funding equity. This bill has strong bipartisan support. The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, NAFIS, worked tirelessly to develop this bill with the broad input of these impacted districts. The Impact Aid Coalition includes 105 Members of Congress.

* The bill includes the following major improvements: maintains stability for school districts with military bases going through housing renovation and privatization; allows for an updated ``current year count'' when districts see a major influx of students due to troop deployment or other federal action; and expedites the U.S. Department of Education's payments, which currently run up to four years behind.

* I thank my principal co-sponsor Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota for her partnership. I urge my colleagues to support this bill to provide relief to local taxpayers and ensure that all our children receive the education they deserve.

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