Impact Aid gets a boost
March 15, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — The House Budget Committee decided Thursday to add $223 million to President Bush’s 2004 budget request for a program that helps public schools educate children whose parents are stationed on nearby bases.
Impact Aid is a 50-year-old Department of Education program that compensates public school districts located in areas with tax-exempt federal properties, including military bases.
The Bush proposal, which is part of the department’s 2004 budget request to Congress, would continue to fund impact aid for the 142,000 children of servicemembers who live on U.S. bases, but exclude the 243,000 children of servicemembers who live off base — a $172.5 million cut to the program, which received $1.2 billion in fiscal 2003.
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget said the cut is justified because servicemembers who live off base pay property taxes that support local schools.
The House Budget Committee, however, has decided not only to restore the $172.5 million, but to add an extra $50 million.
The committee acted after Rep. Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska whose district includes Offutt Air Force Base, and 53 other Congress members formed a House Impact Aid Coalition to protest the cuts.
In a Thursday statement, Terry called the House Budget Committee’s decision “a tremendous victory” and “very gratifying for our military families at a time when we are deploying their mothers and fathers overseas.”
The Impact Aid Coalition’s next task will be to make sure the added funds “make it through the entire budget process,” Terry aide Jeffrey Connor said in a Thursday telephone interview.
That process usually does not wrap up until the late fall.
But in an earlier interview, Terry had said that he was “extremely optimistic” that the program would be fully funded next year as long as his coalition could convince the House Budget Committee to put the money back in.
“That’s the major hurdle,” he said.