Impact Aid bill signed into law
On Monday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 6, historic legislation that ends credits for Impact Aid payments in the public school funding formula.
State Rep. Patty Lundstrom of Gallup, lead sponsor of the bill, said, “For many Native and underserved students across New Mexico, this is the most important piece of legislation passed in the last 25 years.
“This bill corrects nearly five decades of inequities,” she said, “and puts federal education dollars back into the schools and communities for which they were intended.”
President Jonathan Nez said, “The Navajo Nation, along with other tribes in New Mexico, have strongly advocated for this change for years for school districts with high Native American student populations to receive the full benefit of Impact Aid, as the federal law originally intended.”
The bill provides school districts that contain federal lands access to more than $60 million. A recurring $67 million appropriation from the general fund ensures that no school district will be financially harmed from the change.
Since 1974, federal Impact Aid was included in the State Equalization Guarantee calculation, in which 75% of Impact Aid received by school districts was credited in the SEG and the amount of SEG funding sent to school districts was reduced by that amount.
With House Bill 6, impacted school districts will be able to use 100% of their Impact Aid funds and receive 100% of their SEG funds as well.
The governor signed the bill outside the New Mexico State Capitol building. Delegate Daniel Tso, chairman of the Navajo Nation Council’s Health, Education, and Human Services Committee, and Navajo Nation Board of Education President Priscilla Manuelito joined Nez at the ceremony.
Lujan Grisham said, “Money designed to offset the impact of federal property in a district should go in full to that district without adversely affecting its state funding. This measure achieves that, ending a longstanding practice that was fundamentally unfair.”
Federal Impact Aid is designed to help school districts that miss out on property tax revenue due to tax-exempt federal properties in their district.
New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo said, “Today marks a turning point for Indian education in New Mexico. This historic change will ensure that school districts serving Native American students see an increase in funding by allowing districts to keep the federal Impact Aid funds generated by Native students.”