An Update From Washington SIDEBAR
- By Fritz Edelstein
- February 1st, 2012
Update From Washington
School Modernization and Construction Legislative and Budget Activity
Modernizing the nation’s public schools is a priority
issue in the President’s proposed FY 2013 budget. It includes $30 billion to modernize schools through
a school construction grant program to help create job growth. The budget also
calls for the renewal of Build America Bonds (BAB), which can be used by
municipalities and school districts. BABs are similar to the Qualified School
Construction Bonds (QSCB). The President’s budget gives added emphasis to
school modernization by calling for a grant program to provide $25 billion for
school modernization and $5 billion to modernize community colleges.
The importance and value of the QSCBs in assisting
school districts across the country is demonstrated by the fact that in
2010-2011 school districts in 49 states are using over $11 billion of QSCBs to
build, renovate, repair and modernize school in local communities.
continue on the The Rebuilding America’s Schools Act (S. 796, H.R. 2394) to extend the Qualified School Construction
Bond and Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) programs as the Senate considers
tax extenders provisions as part of Social Security tax cuts and unemployment
benefits negotiations. The primary negotiations are about renewing reductions in
the Social Security payroll tax, continuing some form of long-term jobless
benefits, and Medicare formula adjustment to prevent cuts in payments to
doctors. Tax extenders for various expired tax provisions are on the table
also. QZABS are among the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2011. The
QSCB program expired at the end of 2010, but school districts in states with
remaining allocations are continuing to use QSCBs. Senator Rockefeller (D-West
Virginia) and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-New York) are leading efforts to
extend these programs to modernize schools and generate local jobs in
communities across the country.
Also, efforts to have the Senate act on Fix
America’s Schools Today or FAST Act (S. 1597, H.R. 2948) sponsored by
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). It provides a $30 billion grant program investing in
deferred maintenance and repairs for local schools ($25 billion) and community
colleges ($5 billion) be passed by this Congress. The FAST Act is pending
Senate floor consideration. The FAST Act tracks the President’s America’s Jobs
Act school modernization initiative.
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Fritz Edelstein is a principal in Public Private Action. His work focuses on strategic government and constituent relations, business development strategy, advocacy research and policy analysis, strategic planning and resource development, and advocacy, outreach and public engagement. This work includes producing Fritzwire, the education Internet newsletter providing timely information on education and related issues. To subscribe, write firstname.lastname@example.org.