U.S. Rep. Bill Barrett R-NE has announced that HR 3616, the Impact Aid Reauthorization Act of 2000, was voted out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and is on its way to the House floor.

The impact aid bill is designed to help school districts deal with the loss of tax revenue that results from a heavy presence of federally owned land and property.

"This is a bill that is going to do a lot of good for some of the schools in my district. I have worked hard to ensure that this impact aid bill will go a long ways towards leveling the playing field for school districts without the benefit of a local property tax base. Schools shouldn't be punished just because the federal government owns land in their district and doesn't pay property taxes to help support schools," Barrett, a co-sponsor of the bill, said.

Barrett said he was very pleased that, under a provision in the bill he strongly supported, two impact aid schools in his district are going: to be eligible for funds to be used in school construction. The Niobrara and the Santee Schools would be eligible for construction funds under this provision.

Another new provision in the bill adds a funding floor to small school districts with fewer than 1,000 children who have per pupil average spending lower than the state average. This provision would guarantee federally impacted school districts a foundation payment of no less than 40% of what they would receive if the program, were fully funded.

The bill also includes changes to the formula for payments for federal property to ensure a more equitable distribution of funds. It also ensures equitable payments for children living on land formerly owned by the federal government. As the military privatizes more and more military housing, it is expected that school districts will not receive adequate funding under impact aid to make up the difference between the amount of taxes paid on such property and the amount they would have property had retained its non-tax status. Payments to districts range from $1,000 to $30 million.

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