Senators Luján, Inhofe, Gillibrand, Tillis Introduce Bill To Support Schools By Advancing Full Impact Aid Funding

U.S. SENATE News:

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced legislation to advance Impact Aid programs closer to full funding and to increase funding for public school districts on federal land, which are tax-exempt and therefore have significantly less tax revenue to meet their schools’ and students’ needs.

In 1950, Congress created Impact Aid to provide direct federal support for public school districts that lack a critical state and local tax base. Impact Aid provides payments in lieu of taxes for school districts serving military families, families that live or work on federal property, students who live in low-rent public housing, students with disabilities, and Native American students living on Tribal lands. Impact Aid funding can be used for instructional materials, teacher salaries, school construction, and other educational needs. Nationwide, Impact Aid supports more than 1,100 school districts and over 10 million students. Despite national importance, Congress has not adequately funded Impact Aid programs since 1969. 

The Advancing Toward Impact Aid Full Funding Act introduces a five-year plan to increase funding for four Impact Aid programs by bringing Impact Aid Basic Support Payments and Federal Property Payments closer to full funding, and also increasing funding for Children with Disabilities Payments and Construction Payments to meet the needs of federally impacted schools and children. 

“It is inexcusable that the U.S. government has neglected to fully support public schools and students on federal and Tribal lands, whose teachers work just as hard and whose students are no less deserving,” Luján said. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation, which will allocate more than $10 billion to increase funding for critical Impact Aid programs and ensure that federally impacted school districts – many of which serve Native American students living on Tribal lands – have the resources they need so that every student can meet their full potential.” 

“Ensuring school districts with a federal presence have sufficient funding to give our Oklahoma children a quality education from kindergarten to high school is vital,” Inhofe said. “That’s why I am glad to introduce the Advancing Toward Impact Aid Full Funding Act alongside Sen. Lujan to fully fund Impact Aid and support K-12 education across Oklahoma and our nation.” 

“Every child deserves access to a high-quality public education,” Gillibrand said. “Yet in too many districts on tribal lands or military bases, schools lack the funding to invest in educational programming or upgrade school infrastructure without the state and local tax revenue of a traditional public school. I’m proud work with my colleagues to advance this critical legislation that would invest over $10 billion in our schools and I’ll keep fighting to ensure that students on federal lands aren’t left behind.” 

“Public school districts on federal land should have the same funding as other districts,” Tillis said. “Congress must provide more funding so students in these districts, including our children on military bases, no longer face disadvantages due to lack of resources. I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation to fully fund Impact Aid to level the playfield.”

“Impact Aid is a critical funding source for school districts throughout the country that are impacted by federally owned land, including military installations, Indian Trust, Treaty and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act lands, Federal low-rent housing and other Federal property. Congress has not met its funding obligation for Impact Aid in over 50 years, leaving students in these school districts at a severe disadvantage,” John Forkenbrock, Interim Executive Director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) said. “This important legislation gets closer to fulfilling Congress’s responsibility to federally impacted school districts. NAFIS thanks Senators Luján, Inhofe, Gillibrand, and Tillis for their leadership and support for these school districts and the students they serve.” 

“It has been fifty-three years since the Impact Aid Program has been fully funded. The shortfall in Program appropriations has resulted in prorated payments to all federally impacted school districts including nearly 600 Indian lands school districts,” Brent D. Gish, Executive Director of the National Indian Impacted Schools Association (NIISA) said. “Impact Aid revenues, which can represent up to 50 percent of a district’s operating funds, come to an eligible district without restrictions and therefore can be utilized for programs and priorities as established by the local school board, such as teacher salaries, infrastructure, innovative researched based programs, remediation programs to close the achievement gap, and technology. NIISA wishes to commend Senators Luján, Inhofe, Gillibrand and Tillis for their bold leadership for sponsoring this legislation and strongly urges Congress to expedite the passage of the bill and appropriate funds as necessary.”

This legislation is endorsed by 23 organizations:

National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), National Indian Impacted Schools Association (NIISA), Military Impacted Schools Association, Federal Lands Impacted Schools Association (FLISA), Mid-to-Low LOT Schools, National Indian Education Association (NIEA), National Military Family Association, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Blue Star Families (BSF), TREA: The Enlisted Association, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Fleet Reserve Association, Rebuild America’s Schools, National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), AASA The School Superintendents Association, American Federation of School Administrators, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, Council of Administrators of Special Education, National Disability Rights Network, and National Math and Science Initiative.

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