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Rep. Cook Introduces Education Funding Legislation to Assist Trona Area Schools

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced the Soda Ash Funding for Education Act (SAFE Act).

A recent reduction in royalty rates on soda ash by the federal government has helped U.S. producers grow and remain competitive in foreign markets while also protecting hundreds of good-paying mining jobs in communities like Trona. A portion of these royalties provide vital funding for local schools and road maintenance in communities where soda ash is produced. However, because of the recent rate reduction, the affected schools are facing uncertainty about future funding.

This bill would redirect federal funds to establish a Soda Ash Education Equalization Fund to provide grants to local schools that could be impacted by these changes.

Rep. Cook said, “While it’s important to keep the industry competitive, it’s also critical to ensure that our schools are getting the funding they need. This bill will prevent unnecessary education funding cuts in communities like Trona, while also providing the school board with the stability they need to make sound budget decisions in the years to come.”

In a letter unanimously supporting this legislation, the Trona Joint Unified School District said, “If this legislation would pass in Congress, Trona Joint Unified School District would have more financial stability and a constant resource to provide the richest opportunities for our students and the community.”

Searles Valley Minerals, which manufactures soda ash in Trona, also indicated its support for the legislation, saying, “It will enable these schools to dampen swings in funding and stabilize their budgeting process. Searles Valley Minerals supports this legislation.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Cook will retire from Congress at the end of 2020. 

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