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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2010

SCHUMER SUCCESSFULLY INCLUDES HIGHLAND FALLS "FIX" IN CRITICAL FUNDING BILL; MEASURE WOULD DRAMATICALLY INCREASE FEDERAL AID TO CASH STRAPPED SCHOOL DISTRICT - PERMANENTLY


Critical Senate Omnibus Spending Bill Lifts Artificial Cap on Federal "Impact Aid" to Highland Falls - School Could See Up to $2M in Additional Funding Each Year

For Years, Schumer Has Worked to Lift Artificial Cap on Federal Aid That Highland Falls Receives - Cap has Led to Sky High Property Taxes and School Closures

For Months, Schumer Relentlessly Lobbied his Colleagues to Include the Provision in the Final Spending Bill

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that he has successfully included a permanent fix in the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act for the chronically low funding received by the Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District.  The school district is in a unique position, with the land within the district approximately 93% exempt from property taxation due to wholly exempt Federal and State owned land.  Highland Falls therefore has a very small tax base and, to make matters worse, has been drastically shortchanged by the state and federal government.  Schumer’s solution will send the school district approximately $2 million more per year in federal aid.  Though the Omnibus bill must pass before the fix becomes law, the Senate is poised to act on the bill in the coming week, or risk a government shut-down.  The legislation was officially introduced by Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) yesterday.

“We are at the cusp of achieving a massive victory for the people of Highland Falls and the students in its school system.  For far too long Highland Falls has been asked to shoulder an unfair burden that is nearly impossible to bear,” said Schumer.  “Today, we have a solution that could mean an extra $2 million per year for the school district, and that solution has been included in a bill that the Senate is poised to act on in the coming week.  I will fight tooth and nail to get this Omnibus bill passed to secure a permanent fix for Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery School District.”

Schumer has worked tirelessly in the previous months to include this provision in the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act, lobbying colleagues and even bringing the problem to the attention of President Barack Obama.   The solution’s inclusion in the spending bill is a huge step forward, and the Senate is poised to act on the bill this week.  The Omnibus Appropriations Act also includes an overall $22 million increase for the overarching Impact Aid program.   

Impact Aid is a federal program that provides funding to school districts across the United States that include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the federal government or that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the federal government.  Highland Falls already receives revenue from this program, but there currently exists an artificial cap that prevents the school district from getting its full share of aid, shortchanging it by approximately $2 million.  The legislative language included in the Senate Omnibus bill removes this cap permanently, providing approximately an additional $2 million per year to the cash strapped school district.

The Omnibus still needs to pass the Senate, but inclusion in this critical spending bill is a huge step forward.  The Senate is poised to vote on the bill in the coming week.  If the bill is not passed, the Senate will either have to pass a continuing resolution, funding the government at the 2010 levels, or the federal government will be forced to shut down.   

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