Republicans’ hostility toward military families continues. It’s not enough that they warmonger without acknowledging the real lives that hang in the balance. Now they are targeting the children of those in service as well.
A provision inserted into the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year, a provision demanded by Tea Party Republicans, would make large across the board cuts to local school aid that services military families. These dollars are known as Impact Aid. Impact Aid is one of the oldest federal education programs and serves school districts that are especially burdened by activities or commitments of the federal government — like school districts located near military bases.
The problem is a complicated one, which perhaps suggests how not serious the right is about actually governing. A new report by the Center for American Progress details the challenge. According to the reports, there are lots of children on military bases in need of educational services from the local school system, and most of those children live in families that pay little or no local taxes. Military installations, including their housing units, are not subject to local property tax; the post exchanges and commissaries charge no sales tax; and a very large percentage of the families stationed at military installations are not permanent residents of the state in which the installation is located. They therefore pay no income tax in that state. Those tax dollars, of course, traditionally would help fund educational services. Since there is little to no tax revenue, Impact Aid fills the gap.
CAP explains the impact:
Sequestration lops off 9 percent of that money in the same way that it cuts all other programs. But because Impact Aid funds go out in the same year that they are appropriated, the cut to Impact Aid hits this year’s budget—not the one next year. That leaves such schools in a very awkward position. If they cut their payrolls now, reducing the teaching force and eliminating educational resources, they may find out in a few months that cuts have been reversed and that they have unnecessarily shortchanged their students. But if they keep spending at their current rate until they are sure what Congress is going to do, then they may be forced to make far deeper and more draconian cuts later in the school year.
What is remarkable about this unfortunate situation is the lack of concern or support being exhibited in Congress and that it was totally avoidable. Other than the July 25 hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee, there has been little visible sign of activity or even recognition that the problem exists. In fact, members of Congress representing such districts seem committed to carrying through with the cuts or even making them bigger.
And who could forget Republican silence on the troops at their convention?
As the possibility of sequestration and these cuts grows greater every day, we must make sure the American public understands just who will be hurt the most by Tea Party politics: the men, women and children serving this country with dedication and honor. Just like this new conservative movement is not at all “pro-life,” they are clearly not true “patriots,” either.
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