Larsen introduces Impact Aid bill

Rep. Rick Larsen was expected to introduce legislation today designed to improve funding for schools that receive Impact Aid.

President Bush recently proposed cutting $150 million in funding for all children of military parents who live off base but attend public schools.

Oak Harbor stands to lose $1.5 million if something is not done to stop the cuts.

“This is what keeps me awake at night,” Oak Harbor Schools Superintendent Rick Schulte said Monday.

The school district must start planning the 2003-2004 school year budget next month, but it doesn’t know if it can count on the Impact Aid money.

“It’s a big gamble,” Schulte said. “It’s going to drive a lot of decisions.”

Larsen’s proposed legislation is called GRADE A — Government Reservation Accelerated Development for Education Act, and it calls for the establishment of an Impact Aid Trust Fund. The fund would create a stable source of money, so schools wouldn’t have to rely on government whims when budget time rolls around.

“The problem is that this funding is never guaranteed, often not paid in full, and rarely paid in a timely manner,” Larsen said. “This new legislation will guarantee prompt payment to schools without needless wait or bureaucracy.”

Opponents of the proposed cuts say this is the cruelest time to be making cuts that affect military families.

“Over 150,000 men and women in the military have been deployed to defend our country,” Larsen said. “At the very least, these brave men and women should expect that their children will be taken care of while they respond to the call of duty.”

Contact Marcie Miller at mmiller@whid or call 675-6611

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