WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Health Care, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who is also a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act, which strengthens and expands school construction bond programs in order to encourage school rehabilitation and construction. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) are original cosponsors of the bill.
“Our children deserve the very best learning environment we can provide. We know there is a direct correlation between an up-to-date school building and student performance and morale, so it’s critical to the success of our students that we improve existing schools and build new ones,” said Rockefeller. “In West Virginia we’ve seen these bonds put to good use in making needed improvements to existing schools – like adding a gymnasium and performing arts center or addressing renovations that make our schools safer. School construction bonds are also beneficial because improving schools and building new ones creates new job opportunities and economic activity that supports our local businesses.”
Rockefeller has been pushing for new school construction investments since 2002 when he first introduced the America’s Better Classrooms (ABC) Act. He also worked to include key school construction provisions in the Recovery Act of 2009.
“We have a responsibility to create the best environment for learning possible. That includes assuring that Ohio’s students are able to attend school in buildings that are up-to-date,” said Brown. “Evidence shows that this benefits students by creating an environment more conducive to learning so that they can grow and prosper. That is why I am proud to introduce with Sen. Rockefeller the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act.”
The Rebuilding America’s Schools Act would:
• Permanently extend and expand the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program. QZABs finance school renovations. The bill would make the QZAB program permanent, and increase its allocation from $400 million per year to $1.4 billion per year, the levels authorized under the Recovery Act.
• Permanently reinstate the successful Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program. QSCBs help finance the construction of new schools, but expired at the end of 2010. The bill would reinstate the QSCB program with an allocation of $11 billion per year, the level authorized under the Recovery Act; and
• Make Qualified Zone Academy Bonds easier to use. The bill would restore an expired law that that previously allowed school districts to choose to receive direct payments from the Treasury Department to subsidize the interest on the bonds instead of tax credits. It would also allow school districts to meet the requirement of obtaining a 10% contribution from the private sector by pooling their bonds with those of other school districts.
For text of the bill, click here.