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Public Statements

The Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. TURNER of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, today, my colleague, Congressman Russ Carnahan, and I, as co-chairs of the Historic Preservation Caucus, introduced the Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act, which would incentivize private investment to help rehabilitate our country's older K-12 public school buildings.
It is imperative that we improve our educational facilities to help our children learn and compete in today's economy. According to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, 28 percent of all public K-12 schools were built before 1950. In addition, a study by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the quality of our nation's public school facilities a ``D'' rating. As state and local governments continue to feel pressure in this difficult economy, Congress must remove red tape that hinders private investment in our public schools.

Established by Congress over thirty years ago, the Historic Tax Credit, HTC, has helped create 2.2 million jobs, incentivized nearly $100 billion in private investment, and renovated more than 38,000 buildings, while helping to revitalize our communities and protect our country's cultural heritage. In 2011, the HTC leveraged more than $4 billion in private investment and helped create nearly 56,000 jobs to rehabilitate 937 projects.

Unfortunately, under current law, a restriction on the prior use of a property limits the ability of local governments to partner with private developers to rehabilitate older public schools through the use of the HTC. This bipartisan and bicameral bill would remove this barrier, incentivizing the renovation of older K-12 public schools, improving the learning environment for our nation's youth and helping spur local job creation.

Our communities must have the ability to provide our children with the premier, 21st Century education they deserve. By allowing this incentivized private investment, school districts can rehabilitate their facilities at lower costs and dedicate more funding to educating their students.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to co-sponsor this important bill.

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