An Update From Washington — SIDEBAR

An 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.


Efforts 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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About the Author

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 [email protected]