Yesterday morning, the President signed the Home Mortgage Aid Bill (H.R. 3221) into law. After carefully reading the 694-page bill (and missing a few of our scheduled 40 winks), BoardBuzz is happy to report that the final bill, passed by the Senate on Saturday morning (July 26), did not include a previous provision that would have been harmful for school districts and local education funding.
The original bill introduced in the Senate included a provision in Section 604 that said if a local government raised property taxes between April 2008 and January 2009, taxpayers would have been restricted from claiming the standard tax deduction on their federal income tax returns. This provision would have limited the local and state authority over property taxes and created a number of serious problems for homeowners, as well as local governing authorities.
In this era of falling property assessments, school districts that need to raise property tax rates simply to maintain services would have incurred the ire of local homeowners who would lose this new one time opportunity to obtain a tax deduction. And, homeowners would more than likely vote “no” to increase taxes for local school budgets in communities that make these decisions by local referenda.
Beginning in April, school board members across the country began contacting their members to Congress to let them know just how many problems Section 604 would have created for their district. It would have angered many homeowners, and the provision would have left it to local governing officials (including school board members) to deal with them. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of school board members across the country, the House removed the problematic language from the bill, and the Senate approved the amended version.
BoardBuzz couldn’t be more pleased to witness democracy in action! This is a great example of the difference that local school board members can make to change federal legislation. Members of Congress will recess August 4 through September 5 to spend some time their home states. This is a great time for school board members to set up meetings with them to talk about the needs of their school district and what legislation needs them to pass before they adjourn in the fall. Want to learn more about pressing issues? Click here for an online toolkit with background information and talking points.
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