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ment recognized its duty to reimburse school districts for the property tax foregone because of federal ownership, and for lost revenues from "federally-connected" par
Congress did not establish this program as a special benefit. Rather, it was the fulfillment of a federal responsibility to these communities.
Over the past decade, the impact aid program, like so many other essential education programs, has failed to keep up with the cost of living. In fact, the Administration's fiscal year 1992 budget request is about 20 percent below the amount Congress appropriated for this vital program last year.
I have some strong concerns about the President's proposed impact aid budget. First, it freezes the funding level for “a” students at the fiscal year 1991 level without taking inflation into account.
Second, it eliminates funding for "b" students, arguing that "the presence of these children imposes a much smaller financial burden than that of "a" children, and it can be met with local resources." It is hard to tell that to the Papillion-LaVista School District that has about 2,400 "impacted" students, including 2,100 "super b" students. Or the Plattsmouth School District with 28 percent or 445 of its students being "impacted", all "super b"s.
Third, for the Section 3(d)(2)(B) Program, which provides additional payments for any school district which is 50 percent or more affected, the Administration is proposing a separate appropriation. I oppose the Administration's effort to change this program's budget treatment. This program was originally designed to meet the financial needs of the more severely impacted school districts. The inadequate funding of the impact aid program is requiring more school districts to consider applying for funding under 3(dX2XB). My fear is that there might be some push to eventually prorate payments under 3(dX2XB). The result would be that the children of the Bellevue School District and other highly impacted school districts will suffer if section 3(d)(2)(B) is prorated.
Finally the Administration again reduces the construction component of the program despite the important assistance it provides to communities facing an influx of federally-connected students.
Mr. Chairman, this budget proposal does not take into account the very real needs around the nation. Further, few localities rely on impact aid as heavily as Nebraska. With the Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base and a number of Native American reservations within our borders, Nebraska cannot afford for the federal government to renege on its fundamental duties. These schools are also affected by the fact that the State of Nebraska continues to rely heavily on property taxes as the primary source of school funding. Any loss of revenue as a result of federal activities would be devastating without the compensation granted under the impact aid program.
It is estimated that 15 Nebraska school districts will be eligible for impact aid this year. In four of those districts-Bellevue, Macy, Santee and Winnebago-over 60 percent of the students fall under the 3(a) or 3(b) categories. As such, every cut in impact aid would be devastating to these schools. Every increased dollar is sorely needed.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, impact aid funds are not a luxury for these school districts. These funds pay for bread-and-butter operating costs, for textbooks, for teacher salaries. I urge upon the Subcommittee today, that federally-impacted schools can absorb no more cuts, and, in fact, that an increase in financial support for these schools is essential. I know that the Committee will do what it can to ensure that this program is fully funded. I will be happy to work with this Committee to see that action is taken to provide these students with the best education possible.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.
STAR SCHOOLS PROGRAMS
Senator HARKIN. Senator Exon, thank you very much for your fine statement. And I would just thank you, again, for the very strong support through all your years of public life, and Senator, for your strong support for education.
I would also add that I am aware of the great strides Nebraska has made in the Star Schools Program in getting good education benefits to kids who live in rural areas and small towns and communities. Nebraska has been a leader in that regard.
Jim, just let me point out that in the impact aid, out of $740 million from last year, there is $135.5 million cut this year. About an 18-percent cut in impact aid that the administration has requested, especially in the parts under B. And you have 13 schools and $121.6 million budget has been zeroed out. That is nothing new. This has been expressed before, and the subcommittee has always put the money back in. And, I can assure you that we will do whatever we can to work with you to see that we meet our obligations as you so correctly state, Federal Government obligations, in this regard.
Senator EXON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much, and as I said in my statement, you and the subcommittee and the full committee have been stepping in there doing the right thing with what funds you have. And as I cited, we are still not even keeping up with inflation. And it is very, very difficult. And I guess it is time I suggested we place our money where our mouth is with regard to education. If we cannot take care of the direct responsibility that, I think, the Federal Government has recognized with impact aid, then I guess the whole system up and down the line is likely to fail further. You and I know what a bad impact that is going to have on down the road as the United States of America attempts to become competitive in a very tough industrial climate, beginning certainly now and certainly with the new century.
Senator HARKIN. Jim, thanks. I appreciate your statements on the SSIG's, too. You are right. The States match it dollar for dollar, so why not continue.
Senator EXON. That is the biggest bang for the buck we have, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for your courtesy.
Senator HARKIN. Thank you, very much, Senator Exon.
ADDITIONAL SUBMITTED STATEMENT
The subcommittee has received a statement from Senator Bentsen which will be included in the record at this point. [The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN
Good Morning Mr. Chairman and Committee members. I want to thank Senator Harkin for permitting me to testify about this year's funding of the Impact Aid program. I respectfully urge this Committee to fully fund all facets of Impact Aid in fiscal year 1992.
As you know, Impact Aid is an important source of financial assistance to schools that educate the children of our military personnel. The Persian Gulf conflict showed how much the children of our fighting men and women suffered while their mothers and fathers were defending our nation. In many ways, these children sacrificed just as much for their country as their parents did. Their sacrifice compels us to ensure that they receive the best education possible while their parents serve our country. Fully funding Impact Aid is one of the things we can do to repay the debt we owe these children.
Impact Aid fills a funding gap which these school districts suffer. Because many military families live on base or rent, the impacted schools do not receive property taxes for their children. These school districts are therefore educating military children at local taxpayers' expense.
Congress created Impact Aid forty years ago to relieve the financial burden which these schools suffer. It presently is assisting numerous children and schools. In 1990, Impact Aid served 1.9 million children nationwide, approximately half of whom are military-dependents. It gave financial assistance to nearly 2,700 school districts. Texas alone has 118 impacted districts which depend upon Impact Aid.
Mr. Chairman, I recognize the current fiscal constraints with which you are conttending. Nevertheless, we should still strive to increase funding for Impact Aid as rà much as possible.
Appropriations for Impact Aid have not kept up with the rising cost of public education, consequently underfunding Impact Aid for the last few years. For example, Cin fiscal year 1989, Congress authorized $735 million yet only appropriated $709 million. Fiscal year 1990 was similar with $785 million authorized but only $717 million appropriated. Finally, last year, fiscal year 1991, $835 million was authorized but only $740 million appropriated.
If unchecked, the trend will continue. For example, in his fiscal year 1992 Budget request, the President has requested only $605 million although Congress has authorized $885 million for this year.
Mr. Chairman, if possible, I would like to see Congress appropriate what it has authorized. These impacted school districts cannot otherwise keep up with the rising cost of education. Impacted schools must have this assistance in order to offer our he little homefront warriors the first-class education they deserve.
Our military families have given more than most Americans will ever be called upon to give for their country. Their service has taught us about patriotism, perseverance and character. Our nation's future is tied to our commitment to education and to a strong and secure military. Impact Aid reinforces our commitment in both these areas.
We must prove to impacted districts and military families that we care about them and their children. We can really back up our words by fully funding all parts of the Impact Aid program.
I thank the Chair and the Committee for their thoughtful consideration.
STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY E. CRAIG, U.S. SENATOR FROM IDAHO
Senator HARKIN. Now we turn to my esteemed colleague from the State of Idaho. He served in the House, and now he is here. Senator Larry Craig.
Senator CRAIG. Well Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for a chance to come to your committee this morning. Let me congratulate you on this aggressive schedule you have with a number of people to testify on an obvious and most important issue, that of education, and what this Government will be doing in the next budget cycle with it. Let me ask that my full statement be made a part of the record.
You are right, Mr. Chairman, for 10 years I served in the House, and it was during that time that I became a regular person in front of your counterpart's committee, Chairman Bill Natcher's committee. We talked about impact aid, but to talk about other issues, like the Displaced Homemakers, TRIO funding, School Lunch, and National Youth Sports Programs. All of them critical and important playing their role in a total educational package.
At the same time that we are concerned about education and programs that are not being funded at levels that we would like to see them, I think it is also important, Mr. Chairman, to remember that we have seen an increase to $27.4 billion from $24.6 billion in the 1990 budget. We now have a President who speaks of being an education President, and has now put a new Secretary of Education in place that is pushing a whole set of very interesting priorities that I hope this Congress will look at.
I am not sure that it is a matter of not enough money, I think what you and I are going to have to decide is where the money that is available will go. And that is why I am before you this morning-recognizing that there is, in fact, a recommended increase from the 1989 through 1990-91 budget of somewhere near 20 percent in funding. So the question becomes where do we put the money, and how much can we afford to place.
As my colleague from Nebraska said, for States like Idaho and Nebraska, certainly a priority, Mr. Chairman, is impact aid. It has been and it remains a very necessary part of some school districts' funding, especially in a State like Idaho, where there is such a very large Federal presence. In my State of Idaho, 64 percent of the land base is owned by the Federal Government and is not taxable. Therefore, it is not part of the base that is the traditional funding mechanism for education and educational systems. Impact aid includes about 2,500 "a" students in Idaho, 11,000 "b" students, for a total of about $4.8 million.
We have some school districts in my State, and I would like to site one, the Lapwai School District, inside the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, that in large part would have a phenomenal number of students at risk if it were not for impact aid. But just the reverse is true. A quality educational program exists in that school system today. Native Americans are receiving educational training comparable to any across the Nation, in large part because of impact aid. It must remain a high and constant priority. And I am glad to hear you say, as administrations come and go and attempt to change and zero out this program, the committees of Congress, both the Senate and the House, have seen the necessary priorities to put the funding back in as we have been doing constantly over the years to recognize that kind of impact.
Let me speak briefly to a program that is also of extreme value in my State, and that is the Displaced Homemaker Self-Sufficiency Act and the funding for that. Authorized at a level of $35 million for fiscal year 1991, and such sums as may be necessary, this is a program that now funds six centers for new direction, in my State of Idaho, which have become phenomenally valuable due to separations in homes, divorces, widowhood, and spouses needing assistance to put themselves back on their feet through training and education and to become productive people who view themselves as being of worth once again. A very valuable program, one of those that I see as a priority at the Federal level while our State and local units of government are placing priorities at that level. Another area that has taken its cuts over the years, and because of the decrease in bonus commodities programs has raised the general costs, and that of course, is the National School Lunch Program. Very important. Hungry children deserve to be fed in this country of plenty. I have been a consistent supporter of that and ask once again that that remain the case here in the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, the National Youth Sports Program, another program that I would suggest is one of those that, when you have to pick and choose what are the roles of the State and the Federal Government, here is one that is a Federal role. Some 300 economically disadvantaged children in my State receive programs through an exemplary program that has been recognized nationwide at Lewis-Clark State College. It provides not only nutritional meals and learning, and work in the area of teaching the dangers of drugs, and getting a head start in educational and career opportunities. It is a program that works, and works well in my State. In 1990, Lewis-Clark State College's program was recognized as an exemplary program, and received an award for that.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the TRIO precollege program, including i educational opportunity centers, talent search, and Upward Bound, are successful in Idaho, and need adequate and responsible funding. Fortunately Congress has made an honest attempt to fund these programs in recent years. But there is still much room for improvement in Idaho as there are, I am sure, in all States across this country.
I guess the struggle we have, Mr. Chairman, is, of course, one of limited dollars and high priorities. And it will always be that, I would guess, and it becomes the responsibility of Congress to sort out those things that we at the Federal level think can best be responded to, charging the State and local units of government with their responsibilities in education, also.
And in closing, I must repeat, I am excited by the selection of Lamar Alexander as our new Secretary of Education. The kind of priorities that he has already suggested that have received some national attention, those that I think will challenge this Congress to work cooperatively with the administration to assure that we can recognize where we have failed, work to improve those areas, fund those areas which are now successful, and get on with the obvious and necessary need in this country of continuing to improve our educational systems.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the chance to come by and express my concerns and establish some of those priorities that I think are important for my State of Idaho.
[The statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF SENATOR LARRY E. CRAIG
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify before your subcommittee. I ask that my full statement be made a part of the record. As a Member of the House of Representatives for 10 years, I had the privilege of working with and testifying before your counterpart in the House Appropriations subcommittee, Chairman Bill Natcher. I was a regular visitor on the issue of funding for impact_aid. Today, I would like to address that topic and also several programs which have been most successful in my own state of Idaho and should be funded at adequate levels— the displaced homemaker, TRIO, school lunch, and national youth sports programs. Before I do that however, I would like to take a minute to clear up one misperception. As we all know, George Bush wants to become known as the "education President." I have supported his efforts, through such initiatives as the Excellence in Education Act, and believe the addition of Lamar Alexander as Secretary of Education will help President Bush in attaining his goal. Nevertheless, many have been critical of the President, saying he is somehow not worthy of the label. One of their major complaints is that funding for education at the federal level is decreasing. This, Mr. Chairman, is flat wrong.
Just this year, the Department of Education budget was increased to more than $27.4 billion, up from $24.6 billion in 1990 and $22.7 billion in 1989. This is an increase of more than 20 percent for education since President Bush took office in January of 1989.
With this increase in funding, one might wonder why problems still exist. The reason is quite simple. The responsibility for education lies primarily at the state and local levels, not with the federal government. From my days in the Idaho state senate, I have always been a strong advocate of state funding for education. Some substantial progress has been made in the past few years, but there is a lot of work yet to be done. Local school boards, teachers, administrators and parents must continue to put pressure on their state legislators to support quality in education. That must not only include increased funding for education and a greater role for teacher in the decision making process, but public involvement in making education a high priority.