Turning Green: Democrats School Greening Project Makes Folks Sick
by U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin
When Democrats say they are instituting "green" programs, it's time to grip your wallets a whole lot tighter. I for one don't believe them when they say green is the color of their environmentalist efforts. It's the color of your money and they want to spend it on any number of misguided, social engineering experiments dreamed up by the liberal left. The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public Schools Facilities Act (H.R. 3021) , which the House of Representatives passed this week, proves my point of just how out of whack the Democrats' priorities are.
As I have said many times before, those at the local level are the best at determining what the needs of their schools are. Rarely do federal government, one-size-fits-all mandates fit Wyoming, and the bill the Democrats passed this week is no different. Not only does H.R. 3021 strip the states of the responsibility to build and maintain safe and modern schools, it diminishes support of federal programs like the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which assists disadvantaged and disabled children.
Instead of using taxpayer dollars to fund previously promised education priorities like IDEA, the Democrats' bill spends money on a new program to complete school modernization and renovation projects traditionally handled by state and local governments. This is done at the large price tag of $20 billion over five years. This bill gives grant money for "greening" projects, which according to the text of the bill include "anything that makes them [the schools] more energy efficient." This vague language means that schools could spend the grant money on renovations like playgrounds or other non-academic public school facilities.
Additionally, H.R. 3021 discourages state and local governments from raising their own money to entirely pay for school improvements they presently do in the current system. But the "free" money flowing to local governments from the Feds will, of course, have strings attached. For example, say a school needs to repair their building's roof. Under the new requirements in this bill, the school could have to pay for a whole new roof in the event that the current one does not comply with the new, "green" standards. The school would also be required to pay construction workers based on a miscalculated, Depression-era wage calculation. This Davis-Bacon requirement, which is seven decades out-of-date, would increase costs for the projects that this bill expects the schools to implement.
I think most would agree that taking money from programs for disadvantaged children in order to "green" schools reflects misplaced priorities. It is time for Democrats to realize that our nation's first priority regarding education should be to make sure our youth are well equipped to compete with students on an international level. Since the Democrats took control of Congress last year, I have disagreed with most of their actions and priorities. From what I have seen, Democrats' priorities are different from the rest of the nation, but without a doubt different from Wyoming's. If our school buildings are in good shape and not yet in green shape, greening them can wait until far more important education priorities are addressed.