Bill Funds Necessary School Construction and Repair, Creates New Jobs
Last night, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) joined a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to approve H.R. 3021, the 21st Century high-Performing Schools Facilities Act. This important legislation authorizes $6.4 billion for school construction projects for fiscal year 2009, and includes over $766 million in funding for physical improvement projects for California schools. H.R. 3021 passed with a 250 - 164 vote, and ensures that school districts will quickly receive funds for school modernization, renovation, and repairs that improve the teaching and learning climate, health and safety, and energy efficiency of our schools.
"School buildings should be safe and healthy learning environments for our children," said Rep. Baca. "Unfortunately, too many of our students in the Inland area and across the country are stuck in dilapidated classrooms and extension trailers. This legislation invests over $6 billion in funding for school construction projects that will help to modernize America's schools, including more than $766 million that will directly assist classrooms in California. From Muscoy to Fontana, these additional funds will benefit not only the health and wellbeing of our students and teachers in the 43rd District, but also helps to fight global warming by increasing energy efficiency."
In addition to providing schools with $6.4 billion for modernization, renovation and repair projects, H.R. 3021 also encourages greater energy efficiency and the use of more renewable resources at public schools. 90% of the funds allocated in the legislation must be used for projects that meet green building standards. The bill also requires the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to create a database of the best practices in school construction and to provide technical assistance to states and school districts regarding best practices.
H.R. 3021 also authorizes a separate $500 million over five years to rebuild public schools that were damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The modernization of school buildings is also expected to create thousands of new jobs in the construction industry, one of the industries hit hardest by the recent economic downturn. The bill also supports America's working men and women by applying Davis-Bacon protections to all grants for school modernizations and repairs, ensuring fair wages and benefits are given to all construction workers who take part in the projects.
"With today's high gas and food costs, the American people need help," added Rep. Baca. "Not only does this bill improve America's schools, but it also creates thousands of new jobs in the construction industry. And by ensuring Davis-Bacon worker protections, we have made sure these jobs are well-paying opportunities that will not be outsourced."