Current News and Updates

CSF Federal Update: COVID-19 Aid, School Infrastructure, Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools

March 31, 2021

Congress approved H.R. 1319, the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan with COVID-19 Aid (P.L. 117-2). The Department of Education is implementing the Plan’s $170.1 billion for Education Department education programs, with $169.8 billion for education emergency relief.

K-12 Education: $128.6 billion

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides funding under similar terms as the CARES Act and the December COVID-19 aid bill, Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), with approximately 90% of the funding going to local educational agencies (LEAs). 

California LEAs are expected to receive an estimated $12 billion in additional aid in the ESSER funding.

School Facility Allowable Purposes

P.L. 117-2 allowable purposes include:

  • School facility repairs to reduce risk of virus transmission and support student health;
  • Implementing public health protocols and policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for school reopening;
  • As well as “any allowable use under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act; and Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.”

Also Note: COVID Education Funding purposes under H.R. 133 (P.L. 116-260)

Funds to be used to support multiple purposes including teaching, supplies, services, cleaning, and school facility repairs necessary to support student health as an allowable use.

Specific legislative language:

(13) School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.

(14) Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2021 Infrastructure Report Card – School Facilities rated D+

The 2021 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card noted there are approximately 84,000 public schools with nearly 100,000 buildings in the U.S. with a projected enrollment of 56.8 million students by 2026.

Schools D+ Overview:

“School facilities represent the second largest sector of public infrastructure spending, after highways, and yet there is no comprehensive national data source on K-12 public school infrastructure. Available data indicates that 53% of public school districts need to update or replace multiple building systems, including HVAC systems. More than one-third of public schools have portable buildings due to capacity constraints, with 45% of these portable buildings in poor or fair condition. Meanwhile, as a share of the economy, state capital funding for schools was down 31% in fiscal year 2017 compared to 2008. That is the equivalent of a $20 billion cut. The best estimates indicate a minimum of $38 billion annual funding gap for public school facilities across the country. The Report notes that public schools often serve a secondary function as emergency shelters and community resource facilities during man-made or natural disasters, and facility upgrades are needed to effectively fulfill this important community purpose.”

California School Facilities Rated C

The 2021 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card noted there are 1,026 school districts in California and over 10,000 public elementary and secondary schools serving more than 6,220,000 students statewide. Most of California’s K-12 school facilities are in fair-to-good condition thanks to upgrades to structures, roofing systems, fire alarms, ADA access, electrical, HVAC and technology. Looking ahead, there is a lack in adequate funding for future routine and major maintenance issues.”

Overall, COVID-19 school closures, redesigns, renovations, modifications and greater awareness of school air quality, health, and safety needs highlight the essential daily, community and emergency and function of schools and school facilities.

“Build Back Better” School Infrastructure

Speaker Pelosi spoke about, and supports, school infrastructure. President Biden is expected to unveil new details about his infrastructure plan to inject trillions of dollars into the nation’s infrastructure – including an effort to upgrade or replace crumbling school buildings. The President said during his press conference last week that schools would be a focus of his infrastructure push.

President Biden's “Build Back Better” effort will begin with an infrastructure and climate change package followed by an education, child care and paid leave measure aimed at reducing economic disparities.

The infrastructure package could include hundreds of billions of dollars for roads, bridges, water systems and rail and also includes $400 billion to combat climate change, including $60 billion for "green transit" and $46 billion for climate-related research and development. Another $200 billion would be used for housing infrastructure, including $100 billion to expand the supply for low-income residents. We also expect the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act’s $100 billion for school infrastructure grants and $30 billion to finance school facility bonds to be included.

Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he expects schools will be part of the infrastructure bill: “Usually it’s just roads and bridges, but we have a commitment that education – school construction – will be part of it.”

White House and Education Department

CSF and Washington groups will work with the White House and Education Department on the importance of school infrastructure and the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act’s grants and bonds.

Education and Labor Committee: Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 604 / S. 96)

The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act invests $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff. This would create over 2 million jobs based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs. CSF is getting ready for a House Education and Labor Committee mark-up of the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act next month.

CSF is working to build co-sponsors for the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act; currently there are 154 for H.R. 604 and 28 for S. 96. Our objective is to increase the co-sponsors, making sure Education and Labor Committee members are on board, as the Committee gets ready to mark-up. CSF is contacting California House members and Senators Feinstein and Padilla to co-sponsor the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act H.R. 604, and S.96. 

Impact Aid Infrastructure ActRepresentatives Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Impact Aid Infrastructure Act, H.R. 1886, in the House. The Senate companion bill (S. 945) is led by Senator Hirono (D-HI). The bill would provide a one-time infusion of funds ($1 billion) into the Impact Aid Construction Program to address the significant backlog of school construction needs at federally impacted school districts, those that receive Impact Aid as a tax replacement because of the presence of nontaxable federal properties, including Native American reservations and military installations.  

Energy and Commerce Committee: Broadband

House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have introduced H.R. 1848, the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's America Act or the LIFT America Act, which invests a total of $312 billion in clean and efficient energy, safe drinking water, expanded access to broadband, Brownfield cleanups, and improving our nation’s health care infrastructure. The bill expands broadband access providing $80 billion to provide broadband service to reach 100% connectivity everywhere in the United States, including rural and tribal areas. The bill also authorizes $9.3 billion to help families in rural and urban areas afford Internet service through assistance programs monitored by the Federal Communications Commission. H.R. 1848, an authorization bill, would require separate appropriations. Energy and Commerce Republicans in a Committee hearing said authorizing $80 billion in broadband infrastructure would waste money while failing to close the digital divide between those with internet access and those without. Democrats hope to include the legislation as part of the broader infrastructure package. 

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

The Committee held a hearing on “The Administration’s Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure” on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Committee Chair DeFazio said, “Secretary Buttigieg’s appearance before the Committee couldn’t come at a more consequential time. Right now, our Committee is working on the details of transformational surface transportation reauthorization legislation that I intend to move through our Committee later this spring as part of the broader infrastructure push.” The President’s Build Back Better Recovery Plan, infrastructure and the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (with 154 House co-sponsors) will be a major focus this spring and summer. 

Here is current list of California cosponsors to H.R. 604, the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Senators Feinstein and Padilla are still pending as co-sponsors of S. 96.

  • Rep. Aguilar, Pete [D-CA-31]
    Rep. Barragan, Nanette Diaz [D-CA-44]
    Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37]
    Rep. Brownley, Julia [D-CA-26]
    Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]
    Rep. Cardenas, Tony [D-CA-29]
    Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]
    Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
    Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]
    Rep. Garamendi, John [D-CA-3]
    Rep. Gomez, Jimmy [D-CA-34]
    Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
    Rep. Jacobs, Sara [D-CA-53]
    Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]
    Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
  • Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49]
    Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33]
    Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19]
    Rep. McNerney, Jerry [D-CA-9]
    Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
    Rep. Panetta, Jimmy [D-CA-20]
    Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
    Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40]
    Rep. Sanchez, Linda T. [D-CA-38]
    Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]
    Rep. Swalwell, Eric [D-CA-15]
    Rep. Takano, Mark [D-CA-41]
    Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5]
    Rep. Vargas, Juan [D-CA-51]

We look forward to working with CSF and CASH to advance federal support and investment in California’s school infrastructure.

Bob Canavan
CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Update: CNBC Article - Build America Bonds may be key to financing Biden's infrastructure plans

March 26, 2021

CNBC published the following article today. It is another indication that the Biden administration is serious about infrastructure.

David Walrath
CSF Coordinator

Build America Bonds may be key to financing Biden’s infrastructure plans
Published March 26, 2021 | By Thomas Franck

“Republicans and Democrats agree that the U.S. is in dire need of a major infrastructure overhaul, and at the very least, that Congress should authorize significant repairs to roads and bridges.

The fierce disagreement between the two parties begins over which provisions are worthy of running the federal deficit higher, as well as over how to finance such a massive undertaking.

And while Wall Street worries about potential increases to corporate and individual income tax rates, Democrats may soon turn to an Obama-era tool to finance their infrastructure plans: Build America Bonds…”

Click here to view the full article on the CNBC website.

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CSF Update: Senate Passes Budget Reconciliation American Rescue Plan, Bill to House for Final Passage; More Aid for California Schools, Infrastructure Next

March 8, 2021

Senate Approves H.R. 1319 – $1.9 Trillion Reconciliation Bill with COVID-19 Aid for Schools, States, Municipalities and Counties; Sends Bill to House for Final Passage

Here is an update on additional federal aid to support California schools. The Senate passed the American Rescue Plan’s COVID-19 Aid in the Budget Reconciliation Bill (H.R. 1319) 50-49. The bill now goes back to the House for a vote on the Senate changes. Congress is closer to completing work on the Reconciliation Bill carrying additional federal COVID-19 aid to support reopening schools and classrooms safely for students, staff and families.

Education Funding
The bill appropriates $170.1 billion for ED Department education programs with $169.8 billion for education emergency relief.

K-12 Education $128.6 Billion
The bill provides funding under same terms as the CARES Act and the December COVID-19 Aid Bill, Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, with approximately 90% of the funding going to local educational agencies (LEAs). California LEAs could receive at least a conservatively estimated $10 billion in additional aid in Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief funding.

Funding for Education
• $125.8 billion for K-12 state education agencies
• $40 billion for institutions of higher education
• $2.75 billion to governors for private schools with high poverty enrollment (Senate add)

Distribution of K-12 Funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund)
The amount of funding allocated to each state and district will be based on the relative amount of Title I funding the state or district receives. States are required to sub grant at least 87.5% of their funding to school districts (including charter schools that are considered school districts).

State Set-Asides
• States required to set-aside funds for the following purposes:
• 5% to address learning loss
• 1% for evidence-based, comprehensive after-school programs
• 1% for evidence-based summer enrichment
• 2.5% for educational technology

Local Educational Agency Use of Funds
At least 20% of funds must be used to address learning loss through evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. The remaining funds can be used for any allowable use under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, and Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.

Purposes funds can also be used for include:
• Coordinating with public health departments.
• Conducting activities to address the needs of students from low-income families, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth.
• Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity as well as assistive technology or adaptive equipment).
• Summer learning, and supplemental after-school programs.
• Mental health services.
• Addressing learning loss.
School facility repairs to reduce risk of virus transmission and support student health.
• Implementing public health protocols, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention for school reopening.

• Implementing activities to maintain the operation and continuity of services and to employ existing staff.

Maintenance of Effort, Maintaining State Funding
To receive funding, states must provide at least as much funding for K-12 and higher education in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 as a proportion of the state’s overall spending (averaged over fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019). However, the Secretary of Education can waive this requirement. In addition, states and districts must comply with new Maintenance of Equity requirements that prevent state and local funding cuts from disproportionately impacting high poverty districts and schools.

Education Aid
The additional COVID-19 aid for California schools is needed to help reopen schools safely for students, staff and communities.

Energy and Commerce Committee Reconciliation
Broadband, distance learning, drinking wastewater services: Chapter 2 appropriates $7.7 billion for distance learning, primarily to reimburse schools and libraries for the costs of telecommunications equipment and services, and consumer product safety.
• $7.2 billion provided to the e-rate program for home internet access and connected devices.
• $0.5 billion to assist low-income households with drinking water and wastewater services.

Agriculture Committee Reconciliation
Nutrition, SEC. 1011. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) - Continues the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021. Provides additional administrative funds to states to administer the program as caseloads are expected to remain higher than normal due to the economy.

Final Congressional Reconciliation Action
Senate approval of the Reconciliation bill, House approval of the Reconciliation bill. Sending the American Rescue Plan’s COVID-19 Aid to the White House for the President’s signature will be the final step for Congress and the Biden Administration. The American Rescue Plan will provide additional aid to fund the reopening of schools, support for individuals and unemployment insurance, vaccine and testing to combat the pandemic, and $350 billion in aid to state, municipal and county governments to support local budgets, programs and services to avoid layoffs.

Build Back Better – Next STEP Economic Recovery, Infrastructure
As a follow-up to the American Rescue Plan the Biden Administration announced a second Administration initiative, the "Build Back Better” Recovery Plan, to invest in infrastructure and other economic recovery steps to follow Congressional action on Budget Reconciliation and the American Rescue Plan. Californians for School Facilities and others are working to include school infrastructure and the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act in the economic recovery initiative.

The Build Back Better Recovery Plan, Infrastructure and the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act with 162 House cosponsors will be a major focus this spring and summer.

Here is current list of California cosponsors to H.R. 604 – The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

  • Rep. Aguilar, Pete [D-CA-31]
    Rep. Barragan, Nanette Diaz [D-CA-44]
    Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37]
    Rep. Brownley, Julia [D-CA-26]
    Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]
    Rep. Cardenas, Tony [D-CA-29]
    Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]
    Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
    Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]
    Rep. Garamendi, John [D-CA-3]
    Rep. Gomez, Jimmy [D-CA-34]
    Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
    Rep. Jacobs, Sara [D-CA-53]
    Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]
    Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
  • Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49]
    Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33]
    Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19]
    Rep. McNerney, Jerry [D-CA-9]
    Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
    Rep. Panetta, Jimmy [D-CA-20]
    Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
    Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40]
    Rep. Sanchez, Linda T. [D-CA-38]
    Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]
    Rep. Swalwell, Eric [D-CA-15]
    Rep. Takano, Mark [D-CA-41]
    Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5]
    Rep. Vargas, Juan [D-CA-51]

Stay healthy and safe.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

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CSF Update: Announcement from the FCC Regarding Rules for Emergency Broadband Service Home Internet Program

March 5, 2021

Emergency Broadband Service for Households with Children who Receive Free or Reduced-Price Lunch
The FCC has established rules for a $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – the largest federal program ever to help low-income households access affordable internet. The program, funded in last December’s coronavirus relief package, will provide $50 monthly discounts on broadband service for eligible households, plus a one-time $100 discount on a computer or tablet purchase. Households living on tribal lands will be eligible for $75 monthly discounts on their internet bills.

The program is expected to be up and running in sixty days and will be open to several groups, including households with children who receive free or reduced-price lunch and Pell Grants. As the FCC’s Acting Chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel explained, the new program will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, including “those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning.”


-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CSF Update: Budget Reconciliation; American Rescue Plan; Build Back Better Recovery Plan; Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act

February 16, 2021

Budget Resolution, Reconciliation

The House and Senate passed FY 2021 Budget Resolutions setting the stage for House and Senate authorizing Committee Reconciliation bills as the legislative vehicle for the Biden Administration's American Rescue Plan. The Reconciliation bill with the American Rescue Plan COVID-19 Aid to reopen schools starts in the House, followed by the Senate. Final action is expected later this month or early March. House Committees such as Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means have completed their sections of the House Reconciliation bill. The House Oversight and Reform Committee marks-up its section on Friday, February 12. 

The Education and Labor Committee Reconciliation bill provides $170 billion for education-related programs, including $128.6 billion for K-12 education and also provides funding for child nutrition programs, some social services programs, and raises the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Below is information from the Education and Labor Committee and other Committee sections related to education and education services. 

House Education and Labor Reconciliation Mark-Up

Chair Scott's statement as the Committee bill was released: "This legislation ensures K-12 schools will have the resources to bring students and educators back into classrooms safely. It invests $130 billion to help schools comply with CDC guidelines for safely reopening schools, including repairing ventilation systems, reducing class sizes so that students can be spread out and implementing social distancing guidelines, purchasing personal protective equipment, and hiring staff to care for students' health and well-being. School districts will also be required to set aside 20 percent of the funding they receive to address lost time in the classroom." 

The Education and Labor Committee Reconciliation bill reflects the Biden American Rescue Plan, with some differences. The Committee Reconciliation bill, in addition to the education-related programs, provides funding for child nutrition programs, some social services programs, and raises the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.  

Key education provisions include:

  • $170 billion in education funding for COVID relief – The Committee bill has $169.8 billion for education emergency relief funds; different than the CARES bill and COVID aid package enacted in December, there is no separate fund for governors to administer.
  • $128.6 billion for K-12 education – The bill provides the funding under the same terms as previously for the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, with 90% of the funding going to local educational agencies (LEAs). LEAs must reserve at least 20% of the funding to address learning loss, and State Education Agencies must reserve at least 5% of their share for the same purpose. The funding is available through Sept. 30, 2022 (the end of fiscal year 2022). The President's plan requested $130 billion for elementary and secondary education. The COVID Aid bill enacted in December provided $54.3 billion for public K-12 education and another $2.75 billion for the governors' fund for private schools.
  • $39.6 billion for higher education – The bill provides 99% of the funding ($39.2 billion) for public and private non-profit institutions of higher education, which must use at least 50% of their funding on emergency financial aid grants to students. The remaining 1% ($396 million) is for for-profit institutions, which must use all of the funding for financial aid grants to students. Of the total, 7.4% is reserved for HBCUs, Minority-Servicing Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities.
  • $850 million each for outlying areas and Bureau of Indian Education.
  • Maintenance of Effort – Contains similar maintenance of efforts requirements that the Secretary of Education can waive for states "for the purposes of relieving fiscal burdens incurred by State in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus" although it includes new language to protect spending in high-poverty LEAs.

Other education-related funding in the bill:

  • $200 million for Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • Child Care – Directly appropriates $39 billion for child care programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • $15.0 billion for Child Care and Development Block Grant available thru Sept. 30, 2021 (one year less than education stabilization funding).
  • $23.975 billion for child care stabilization funding for providers.
  • $35 million for administration costs.
  • $1 billion for Head Start that is available thru Sept. 30, 2022. The Biden American Rescue Plan did not include Head Start funding.
  • $1 billion for Corporation for National and Community Service; includes $852 million available thru Sept. 30, 2024 - $620 million for AmeriCorps.

Energy and Commerce Committee Reconciliation

Among many other provisions the Committee report establishes a $7.6 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund. The proposal would provide $7.6 billion to establish an Emergency Connectivity Fund and require the Federal Communications Commission to issue rulemaking to support internet use at home for students and teachers and provide needed equipment. The Committee also approved $4.5 billion for a low-income energy program, funding for EPA grants and money for drinking water and wastewater expenses.

 House Oversight and Reform Committee Reconciliation

The Committee will take up its Reconciliation section on Friday Feb. 12 and is expected to provide $350 billion to help states, localities and tribal governments replenish lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic. States, along with the District of Columbia, would get about $195 billion, distributed mostly on the basis of each state's share of unemployed workers. Local governments would get about $130 billion, split evenly between cities and counties. Tribal governments would receive $20 billion and U.S. territories would receive $4.5 billion.

The Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Reform Committees Reconciliation reports will be combined with the reports from other Committees such as Ways and Means, Transportation and others into the combined House Reconciliation bill. The House should vote on the bill within the next two weeks. Senate Committees will then use a similar process including the Senate HELP Committee mark-up of the Education section. The Senate will assemble Committee sections into a Reconciliation bill for approval. The House and Senate Reconciliation bills will then be combined into a final Reconciliation package which needs to be adopted by both the House and the Senate. Hopefully that can be assembled, considered and completed by early to mid-March.

There is considerable Committee and Leadership work to be completed over the next weeks to finish the $1.9 trillion Reconciliation bill to finally enact the American Rescue COVID-19 Aid Plan.

Next STEP Economic Recovery Infrastructure

A second Administration initiative, the "Build Back Better” Recovery Plan to invest in infrastructure and other economic recovery steps, will follow Congressional action on Budget Reconciliation and the American Rescue Plan. Rebuild America's Schools and others are working to include school infrastructure in the economic recovery initiative starting with the introduction of the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act.

Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act

On January 28, House Education and Labor Committee Chair Scott (D-VA) with House colleagues and Senators Reed (D-RI) and Brown (D-OH) with Senate colleagues introduced the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act.

The Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act:

  • Invests $100 billion in grants and $30 billion in bond authority targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff;
  • Creates over 2 million jobs based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs;
  • Allocates 2021 program dollars on an emergency basis to aid in safely reopening public schools in line with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) public health guidelines-such as for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;
  • Requires state to develop comprehensive state-wide public databases on the condition of public-school facilities; most states do not track school facility conditions and would provide much-needed insight into the condition of our public schools; and
  • Expands access to high-speed broadband to ensure that public schools have the reliable and high-speed Internet access needed for digital learning.

The Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act (H.R. 604) was introduced in the House with 145 co-sponsors and in the Senate (S. 96) with 25 co-sponsors.

CSF leadership and members are contacting California members of the House delegation and Senator Padilla to co-sponsor the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act. Investing in school infrastructure will address critical national, state and local needs illustrated by these points

  • A June 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the state of school infrastructure-the agency's first report on the subject since 1996-found that 54% of school districts across the country must replace or update major systems in more than half their buildings.
  • The GAO report estimated that 4 in 10 districts need to update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in at least half of their school buildings, which it projects to affect 36,000 school buildings nationwide.
  • In its guidance to school districts, CDC advises that ensuring "ventilation systems operate properly" is a key consideration for schools seeking to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic and health experts agree that improving air quality should be part of a layered approach against COVID-19 in school reopening.

Californians for School Facilities asks that we all join in working with the 117th Congress and the Biden Administration on the American Rescue Plan and the Build Back Better Recovery Plan. Let’s pass the American Rescue Plan. Let's also continue building support to invest in infrastructure including the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act to help states and local communities' repair, build, renovate and modernize America's healthy and safe school infrastructure. Funding modern, healthy and safe schools will generate economic activity in every state creating more than 100,000 new construction jobs while advancing student achievement.

California Members to Request Co-sponsorship of H.R. 604:

  • Ami Bera
  • J. Luis Correa*
  • Jim Costa*
  • Josh Harder*
  • Sara Jacobs (new)
  • Alan Lowenthal *
  • Scott Peters
  • Raul Ruiz*
  • Adam Schiff*
  • Jackie Speier*
  • Eric Swalwell*
  • Norma Torres
  • Senator Padill

*Asterisk indicates the representative co-sponsored in the last Congress.

  Bold indicates the representative is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.


-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

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CSF Update: Matsui Leads Effort to Update School HVAC Systems

February 10, 2021

"WASHINGTON, D.C. – Inspired by California’s recently enacted AB-841 legislation, which redirects funds to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades in schools and wildfire impacted communities, and seeking to address Sacramento’s high levels of smog and air pollution, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), along with 31 colleagues, sent a letter to the Biden Administration to support the creation of a program for HVAC system maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades in our nation’s schools..." Click here to view the full press release from Matsui's office.

View the Letter to President Biden

CSF thanks Representative Matsui for her support of the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 604) and indoor air quality.

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CSF Update: Federal Action Related to School Facilities

January 29, 2021

There is significant action occurring in Washington, D.C. on issues related to school facilities. This update will focus on three issues that are expected to be acted on during the first six months of this year:

1. The new $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal
2. The new $100 billion Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act
3. The expected $2.0 trillion infrastructure proposal

 

New Stimulus Proposal
President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes $130 billion for kindergarten through university education. Of this amount, $70 billion would be for K-12 education. Assuming the current ratio of allocation between the total national amount and the amount for California, CSF believes California would receive up to $8.5 billion dollars for K-12 education. While there is not specific language currently available, we believe that the allowed expenditures will be similar to the December stimulus, mainly concentrating on reopening schools and potentially including funding for increased instructional services.

CSF federal lobbyist Bob Canavan, who works in Washington, D.C., has indicated that this proposal should be enacted by late February or early March. Now is the time for school districts to start thinking about how they will integrate these potential additional revenues into the expenditure plans that they are developing for the use of the CARES Act funds and the December stimulus.

CSF will be advocating for these funds with the California congressional delegation and the appropriate congressional committees.

Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools
House Education and Labor Committee Chair Scott has introduced the $100 billion Rebuild and Reopen America’s Schools Act. This bill is essentially the same as last year’s Rebuild America’s Schools Act that was incorporated into the comprehensive infrastructure package passed by the House of Representatives last year.

CSF supported last year’s legislation and currently is working to increase the number of congressional supporters for the new legislation. The new legislation includes $70 billion for grants to schools in $30 billion in tax credit bonds to reduce the cost of school financing of school facilities. Additionally, the proposal includes important modifications to the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program that is continued in the legislation.
CSF will be working to help pass this legislation and ensure that schools are included in any comprehensive infrastructure package.

New Infrastructure Package
President Biden is expected to propose an up to $2 trillion infrastructure package after the stimulus proposal is enacted. CSF expects that this package will include significant funding to assist school districts in repairing, renovating, and building new school facilities. This was part of the then-candidate Biden’s infrastructure proposals. CSF will work with the California congressional delegation and the appropriate congressional committees to help pass this legislation, which we expect to include up to $100 billion for school facilities.

Other Facility Issues
CSF expects that the Biden Administration will be proposing a number of education initiatives in early childhood education, as well as expansion of access to healthcare counseling and other services on school campuses. If these initiatives are proposed, CSF will be advocating to include financial support for the needed facility adjustments to implement these types of programs. These were part of candidate Biden’s education proposals, however, there is no specific timeline on when these types of initiatives might be proposed.

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

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CSF Federal Update: COVID ED Funding, 117th Congress, School Infrastructure

January 11, 2021

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021 and to the 117th Congress.

117th Congress
Education funding and elementary and secondary education policy issues will be on the table as the Biden-Harris Administration assumes office and prepares a policy and legislative agenda including greater funding for the reopening of schools. President-elect Biden has indicated he hopes to begin his Administration’s first 100 days by safely reopening schools, if states and cities enact strong public health measures and Congress provides funds to support the effort particularly in K-8 schools. Economic stimulus, including infrastructure, will be an early priority of the Biden Administration.

A smaller House Democratic majority re-elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a larger Republican minority re-elected Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the 117th Congress convened and members were sworn in. The two Georgia Senate run-off elections will determine whether Senator McConnell will continue as Senate Majority Leader or if Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) assumes the Senate Majority Leader position.

116th Congress
The 116th Congress adjourned after Congress agreed on a COVID-19 Aid package included in H.R. 133, the massive 5,593-page combined Omnibus Appropriations and COVID Aid bill. The House passed another bill to increase individual payments to $2,000, but the Senate failed to act.

COVID Aid
The COVID package includes $82 billion for education with $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, $10 billion for child care, and $13 billion for SNAP and child nutrition. California school districts should receive $6.76 billion ($1,071.91 per pupil). There is NO direct aid for state and local governments in this COVID package. Liability protections were also not included. Funding for the Secure Rural Schools program was not included in either the COVID aid or Omnibus legislation.

COVID Education Funding Highlights
Education Relief Fund Total: $81.9 billion (including $20 billion higher education funding). Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund: $54.3 billion for school districts with the funds to be used to support multiple purposes including teaching, supplies, services, cleaning, and school facility repairs necessary to support student health as an allowable use. California school districts should receive $6.76 billion.

NOTE: Legislative Language Below
(13) School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.

(14) Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.

Governors Emergency Relief Fund
$4.1 billion including $2.75 billion for private K-12 schools to be allocated based on the percentage of low-income students attending private schools. There is a long description of what private schools can use the funds for and what they may not be used for, including vouchers and tuition tax credit programs. Secretary DeVos tried to direct more CARES Act Education Aid to private schools. The incoming Biden Secretary of Education is not expected to continue that effort.

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools and Outlying Areas: $819 million
        • Broadband and Telemedicine: $7 billion
        • Child Care: $10 billion
        • SNAP and Child Nutrition: $13 billion

Energy Department
Includes Legislative language that the Energy Department must prioritize funding for research to power the United States with 100 percent “clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources.” It authorizes a set of new renewable energy measures, including tax credit extensions and new research and development programs for solar, wind and energy storage; funding for energy efficiency projects; upgrades to the electric grid and a new commitment to research on removing carbon from the atmosphere. And it reauthorizes an Environmental Protection Agency program to curb emissions from diesel engines. Bill provisions begin to address incoming Biden-Administration call to extend tax incentives for solar and wind generation and provide more money for clean energy research.

Solar Investment Tax Credit – 2-year Extension
Energy efficient commercial buildings deduction. The provision makes permanent the deduction for energy efficiency improvements to building envelope, lighting, heating, cooling ventilation, and hot water systems of commercial buildings. The provision, also updates the ASHRAE Reference Standard 90.1 from the 2007 standard to the most recent standard as of two years before the start of construction.

FY 2021 ED Funding
The Omnibus bill Labor, Health and Human Services and Education FY 2021 total includes a small $785 million (less than 2%) increase over last year’s funding level. Funding for most programs is either frozen at the FY 2020 levels or increased by less than 2%. The bill rejects the President’s proposed program consolidations, funding cuts, and eliminations.

Key programs include:

  • Title I (the largest K-12 program): $227 million (1.4%) increase
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State Grant Programs: $181 million (1.3%) increase
  • Career Technical Education: $52 million (4.1%) increase
  • Adult Education: $18 million (2.7%) increase

We look forward to working with CSF and CASH to advance federal support and investment in California’s school infrastructure during the Biden Administration and 117th Congress. Example starting points will be two bills from the 116th Congress: H.R. 865/S. 266, The Rebuild America’s Schools Act and H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

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CSF Federal Update: Biden Economic Recovery Plan, Investing in School Infrastructure

December 4, 2020

We hope all are well and healthy.

Congress is trying to close-out a lame duck session by completing a massive Omnibus Appropriations bill and a much need COVID-19 aid package to assist schools, state and local governments, hospitals, small businesses and provide unemployment benefits. The Biden-Harris transition team is working on the President-elect’s Economic Recovery Plan and his education agenda. The Biden-Harris education transition team is chaired by Linda Darling Hammond, President of the California State Board of Education.

President-elect Biden announced an Economic Recovery Plan with an emphasis on modernizing our nation’s infrastructure and schools, including $100 billion to rebuild public schools and invest in high speed broadband.

Californians for School Facilities will work with President-elect Biden, Vice-President-elect Harris and Congress to enact their Economic Plan through bills such as the Moving Forward Act and the Rebuild America’s Schools Act to help states and local communities repair, build, renovate and modernize California’s and America’s school infrastructure. Investing in modern schools will generate economic activity in California and every state, creating more than 100,000 new construction jobs.

Below is short federal report on the lame duck session. The Continuing Resolution (CR) currently funding federal agencies, including the Department of Education, expires December 11.

Omnibus Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Bill
House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs are negotiating an Omnibus Appropriations bill to include 12 FY 2021 Appropriations bills. The Senate and House Appropriations Committee negotiators are close to an agreement but there are some issues holding up a final package, including funding for the border wall, veterans’ programs and social policy riders. The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill has not been finalized yet. If a FY 2021 funding package cannot be finalized next week, Congress might pass another short term one-week CR to allow time to finish their work.

COVID-19 Aid Package
COVID-19 talks may come back to life. There is a bipartisan Senate $908 billion plan with Republican and Democrat sponsors that is trying to bridge the gap between the House passed HEROES Act, a $500 billion bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and Administration proposals. House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Schumer are supporting the Senate bipartisan plan. The bipartisan plan has $160 billion for state and local governments and $82 billion for schools, as well as aid for hospitals, small business, unemployment benefits, and liability protections. California school districts would receive approximately $8 billion in funding through this package. The support of Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer is a compromise from earlier positions. This raises the possibility of further talks for a COVID-19 aid package. Majority Leader McConnell is now somewhat more optimistic than previously. There are a number of issues to resolve in a short period of time. But the prospect of another COVID-19 aid package is more promising, if Congressional leaders and the Administration can agree that a COVID package is needed now.

CSF looks forward to the first 100 days of the Biden Administration and their first initiatives including the Economic Plan investing in school infrastructure and other critical national priorities.

Stay safe and healthy.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

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CSF Federal Update: HEROES Act Updated; COVID Aid Bill Support for Schools and School Facilities

September 30, 2020

We hope all are well and healthy.

Aid Bill 2.0 – HEROES ACT (updated)
Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats released a revised and updated $2.2 trillion HEROES Act COVID aid bill on Monday. The new bill, which could get a floor vote later this week if bipartisan talks between the Speaker and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fail, is a reduced version of the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act (HR 6800) the House passed in May.

The new HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act, or pandemic-relief bill, reduces the total cost of the original HEROES Act by $1.2 billion but it more than doubles K-12 education funding to $225 billion and also increases support for school facilities, child care, libraries and museums, and broadband access.

K-12: $175 Billion, School Facilities: $5 Billion
The proposed HEROES bill includes $175 billion for K-12 schools and $5 billion for K-12 school facilities to respond to coronavirus with funds that can be used for repairs and improvements to support student health needs, including improvements to allow outdoor teaching.

Overall, the revised $2.2 trillion HEROES Act still contrasts with the $1.5 trillion COVID Aid figure last proposed by the White House. Speaker Pelosi and the Treasury Secretary may resume COVID negotiations. The Speaker also said House Democrats could take the revised HEROES bill to the floor if the renewed talks for the much needed COVID aid package with the Administration fail.

HEROES Act (updated): Department of Education Funding
$208.1 billion for ED’s Education Stabilization Fund
Funding is allocated to states based on a combination of the number of school-aged children and the number of Title 1-eligible children. Funding is not dependent upon schools reopening, and can be used for the types of services and supplies that were allowed under the CARES Act. Funding is divided as follows:

  • $175 billion for elementary and secondary education.
  • $27 billion for public postsecondary education, with 75% based on the number of Pell Grant-eligible students. Funds can be used for an institution’s needs and for grants to students.
  • $4 billion for governors to use on education, including restoring state and local education support.
  • $2 billion for Bureau of Indian Education, tribal colleges and outlying areas.

Maintenance of Effort
States must maintain the percent of their budgets spent on education in FY 2019 for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2022, with further specific assurances for K-12 funding and higher education.

$5 billion for K-12 school facilities to respond to coronavirus – funds can be used for repairs and improvements to support student health needs, including improvements to allow outdoor teaching.

Education-Related Funding

  • Child Care: $57 billion – Provides $7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant for providers and $50 billion for a state Child Care Stabilization Fund.
  • Wi-Fi: $12 billion to close the homework gap and $3 billion for emergency home connectivity for schools and libraries to fund Wi-Fi hotspots and devices.
  • HEAD Start: $1.7 billion

School Facilities and COVID Aid
CSF continues working long-term for the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, Moving Forward Act and for provisions and funds in the COVID aid packages to assist school districts and communities in dealing with the immediate costs of preparing, modifying, renovating and equipping schools and classrooms for the pending re-opening of school and the safe and healthy return of students and staff to their schools and classrooms.

CSF thanks Speaker Pelosi, House Committee Chairs Scott, Neal, and DeFazio, committee staff and Senators Reed, Brown and the 27 Senate co-sponsors of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. We look forward to working together for much needed essential grant and school infrastructure bond investments in our nation’s infrastructure and school facilities.

Thank you to all who support the work of CSF and CASH members to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.


-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Federal Update: USDA Extends School Meal Waivers to December 31, 2020

September 8, 2020

In a last-minute decision, the USDA reversed its previous position and is extending critical waivers that allow school districts to more easily serve free meals to students during the pandemic.

Specifically, the extended waivers enable schools to operate their meal programs during the school year as they do over the summer and provide free meals without burdening families with paperwork to verify eligibility. The waivers, set to expire this month, are extended to December 31, 2020.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue intended to let the waivers expire, with the explanation that the agency lacked authority to implement extensions. The USDA has now changed that position. Many argued for the additional extensions including education and school nutrition advocates, and members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans.

House Education Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) applauded the USDA’s decision but called it a “temporary solution,” urging the USDA to extend the waivers for the entire 2020–2021 school year. Secretary Perdue and the USDA contend that there isn’t sufficient funding. This will make school nutrition a priority issue as Congress negotiates the coronavirus relief package.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Federal Update: School Infrastructure, RASA, Senate COVID Aid Bill, HEROES Act, Child Nutrition School Lunch and Breakfast

July 27, 2020

We hope all are well are healthy as COVID-19 continues to affect California and the safe reopening of California schools.

Rebuild America's Schools Act/Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2
CSF continues to work for the final passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure package providing much needed grant and school infrastructure bond investments in our nation's infrastructure and school facilities. H.R. 2 includes the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act that provides grants and bonds to assist states and local communities build, rehabilitate and repair critical infrastructure and school facilities and also creating much-needed local jobs. CSF thanks Speaker Pelosi, Chairs Scott, Neal, and DeFazio and the House for the passage of H.R. 2, and Senators Reed, Brown and the 27 Senate co-sponsors of the Rebuild America's Schools Act. CSF looks forward to working for the final passage of the Moving Forward Act and the Rebuild America's Schools Act school infrastructure grant and bonds.

School Facilities and COVID Aid
CSF is also working with Senate and House Committees and the staff of Senators Reed, Murray, Schumer and others and with education friends and colleagues for provisions and funds in the COVID aid package currently being considered in the Senate to assist school districts and communities in dealing with the immediate costs of preparing, modifying, renovating and equipping schools and classrooms for the pending re-opening of school and the safe and healthy return of students to their schools and classrooms.

Senate COVID Aid Bill
The Senate is finally putting together a response to the House HEROES Act, the COVID-19 economic aid recovery bill passed in May. But Senate Republicans are delaying the release of their coronavirus relief package as they continue to struggle to resolve policy disputes and iron out details of their trillion-dollar initiative. The Senate Republican bill is well below the House HEROES Act, which provides $3 trillion in assistance. A major difference is the Senate bill does not include aid to state and local governments. The House HEROES bill would provide almost $1 trillion in COVID-19 related relief for states, cities and counties.

The delayed Senate COVID bill is expected to be released this week, with the possibility that Republicans may offer a series of bills. Another outstanding issue is extending unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of this month. Republicans oppose the current law, which adds a flat $600 per week to state benefits, saying it provides more money than many workers would earn on the job. The House HEROES bill extends the benefits with the additional $600 per week through January.

Overall, the Senate Republican COVID bill is likely to include a misleading $105 billion for schools, $25 billion for virus testing and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program that offers forgivable loans to small businesses, with new guidelines to target smaller companies.

The Senate figure for education includes $70 billion for elementary and secondary schools, diluted by a $10 billion set aside for private schools. The White House wants to reserve 10% of the K-12 funding for private schools, including for the President's proposed Education Freedom Scholarships that provide tax credits for donations to scholarship funds for private schools. Of the $70 billion, $30 billion would be reserved for schools that reopen, an Administration request. This, even as the President is now saying maybe not all schools will be able to reopen.

Any Senate bill or bills must be negotiated with the House and the Administration. The House will insist on extending unemployment benefits and aid for state and local governments, substantial support for education without the set aside for private schools, and additional funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and child nutrition programs. All this points to protracted negotiations that may carry over into August.

CSF will work for provisions to assist school districts and communities with the immediate costs of preparing, modifying, renovating and equipping schools and classrooms for the pending re-opening of schools and the safe and healthy return of students to their schools and classrooms.

Child Nutrition
CSF has been asked about additional federal support for child nutrition programs and a critically needed extension of the of the USDA waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in the Child Nutrition programs. CSF is supportive of the House HEROES Act, which allocates an additional $10 billion to SNAP and $3 billion to Child Nutrition.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Extension of the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs
FNS recognized that, for school year 2020-2021, appropriate safety measures are necessary. Therefore, for all states, FNS established a waiver of the requirements to serve meals that meet the meal pattern requirements. This waiver is effective July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

The USDA extended the nationwide waiver multiple times to support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) since the original extension of the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility was issued March 25, 2020 and April 21, 2020 and extended on May 14, 2020, waiving the requirements until June 30, 2020, again in June extending the waiver until June 30, 2021. This applies to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

These flexibilities allow for:
   - Meals that do not meet normal meal pattern requirements when necessary to keep kids fed;
   - Meals to be served outside of group settings and outside of standard times to facilitate grab-and-go and            other alternate service options; and
   - Parent/guardian pick-up of meals for students participating in distance learning.

The new waiver applies to the NSLP’s “offer versus serve” requirement for high schools, which would be difficult to execute while maintaining social distancing, particularly if meals are prepackaged for in-classroom or grab-and-go service.

The waiver for the Summer Food Service Program expires July 31, 2020 while the Nationwide waiver to allow meal pattern flexibility in the child nutrition programs remains in effect from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Federal Update: H.R. 2 Moving Forward Act, School Infrastructure Grants and Bonds Passed by House

July 2, 2020

On July 1 the House, on a vote of 233-188, passed H.R. 2 The Moving Forward Act, including the Reopening and Rebuilding America’s Schools Act grants and the restoration of tax credit bonds to build, renovate and repair school facilities. The Moving Forward Act is a major $ 1.5 trillion infrastructure bill which contains $100 billion ($20 billion per year over 5 years) for much needed school infrastructure grants, and $30 billion over 3 years for school infrastructure bonds including restored Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and a new School Construction Bond replacing Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs). New and improved Build America Bonds and private activity bonds are also included, as are energy bonds.

Thanks to CSF Chair Josh Jorn and CSF members John Baracy, Joe Dixon, John Dominguez, Lettie Boggs and many others for their tireless efforts advocating with members of Congress and staff on behalf of California’s students and schools, making the case for federal investment through grants and bonds to support California school facilities.

H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act, Includes:

  • School Construction Grants
    Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Section K (p.1714) contains provisions for $100 billion for school construction grants, $20 billion per year for five years. Impact Aid Construction (Title III) - Temporarily increases funding for impact aid construction.
  • School Infrastructure Bonds
    Section M Subtitle B (p. 2134)
  • Restores Tax Credit Bonds
    The bill restores Section 6431 to be in effect before repeal by P.L. 115-97 as if such repeal had not taken effect.

Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)
  - Removes private business contribution requirement.
  - Sets annual QZAB amount at $1.4 billion for 2020 and each year thereafter.
  - Purposes: Inserts constructing, rehabilitating, retrofitting or repairing as purposes.

  • School Infrastructure Bonds (replaces ARRA Qualified School Construction Bonds)
    $30 billion, $10 billion per year for FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023. Allocated to states via Title I formula.

CSF thanks Speaker Pelosi and Chairs Scott, DeFazio, and Neal for developing H.R. 2 as an infrastructure and economic stimulus package providing much needed essential grant and school infrastructure bond investments in our nation’s and California’s infrastructure and school facilities.

H.R. 2 now moves to the Senate, setting the stage for negotiations among the House, Senate and the Administration for investing in our nation’s infrastructure, including school facilities, to assist states and local communities to build, rehabilitate and repair critical infrastructure and school facilities and also creating much needed local jobs.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Federal Update: H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act; Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Grants and School Infrastructure Bonds

June 29, 2020

The House is preparing to act on H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, including the Reopening and Rebuilding America’s Schools Act and the restoration of tax credit bonds to build, renovate and repair school facilities. Floor consideration is June 30.

The House Rules Committee meets today, June 29, to set the Rule for House consideration of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, the major infrastructure bill which contains $100 billion over 5 years for much needed school infrastructure grants and $30 billion over 3 years for school infrastructure bonds.

Click here for full text of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act.

H.R. 2 Includes:

  • School Construction Grants: Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act
    Section K (p. 1714) contains provisions for $100 billion for school construction grants, $20 billion per year for five years.
  • Title III - Impact Aid Construction
    Temporary increase in funding for impact aid construction.
  • School Infrastructure Bonds
    Section M Subtitle B (p. 2134) restores tax credit bonds. The bill restores Section 6431 to be in effect before repeal by P.L. 115-97 as if such repeal had not taken effect.
  • Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB)
    - Removes private business contribution requirement.
    - Sets annual QZAB amount at $1.4 billion for 2020 and each year thereafter.
    - Purposes: Inserts constructing, rehabilitating, retrofitting or repairing as purposes.
  • School Infrastructure Bonds (replaces ARRA Qualified School Construction Bonds)
    - $30 billion; $10 billion per year for FY 2021, FY 2022 and FY 2023.
    - Allocated to states via Title I formula.

CSF thanks and looks forward to working with Speaker Pelosi and Chairs Scott, DeFazio and Neal to advance H.R. 2 as an infrastructure and economic stimulus package, providing much needed essential grant and school infrastructure bond investments in our nation’s infrastructure and school facilities.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Federal Update: H.R. 2 with Rebuild America’s Schools Act Grants, Ways and Means RASA Title II School Infrastructure Bond Provisions

June 22, 2020

We hope all in California continue to be well and healthy.

There is real progress on H.R. 2, introduced last week with the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RASA) grants and bonds to finance school infrastructure for public education that will greatly assist California schools and communities to respond to immediate and necessary facility modifications, renovations, and repairs to reopen safely for students, teachers, and staff in a changing COVID-19 environment.

Rebuild America’s Schools Act, H.R. 2
CSF appreciates the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Education and Labor Committee Chair Scott, Transportation and Public Works Chair DeFazio, and Ways and Means Committee Chair Neal on the introduction of H.R. 2, a $1.5 trillion comprehensive infrastructure package which includes investments to Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools.

Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act Provision Provides $100 Billion in School Facility Grants
The investment of $100 billion in grants over five years for our nation’s school infrastructure is critical. The need to improve our nation’s school facilities has never been more necessary as states and local school districts prepare to reopen school for students, teachers, and staff. Investing in school facilities addresses an acute need in local communities in every state to build, repair, renovate and modernize schools and also generate much needed jobs in local communities across the country.

H.R. 2 also includes major investments in highways, broadband, wastewater, drinking water, and affordable housing as well postal infrastructure modernization.

School Infrastructure Bonds Title II Rebuild America’s Schools Act
CSF assisted positive conversations with Ways and Means Committee staff who said that Ways and Means is including Title II of H.R. 865 (i.e., school infrastructure bonds) in the Ways and Means Division. CSF members John Baracy, Josh Jorn, Joe Dixon and David Walrath helped the Ways and Means and Education and Labor Committees understand the value-add of RASA Title II bonds in school construction. The Rules Committee is scheduled to take up H.R. 2 and amendments on Thursday, June 25. CSF thanks Chairman Neal and members of the Ways and Means Committee and will continue to work with staff as H.R. 2 with the RASA grants and Title II school infrastructure bonds tax provisions moves to the Rules Committee and to the House Floor.

Advanced Refunding
This provision will allow many local governments to provide General Fund relief by saving current programs and reducing current debt obligation payments. It will also create greater capacity for entities, including school districts, to borrow additional funds for projects or create savings for local communities by reducing debt payments on existing debt obligations through lower property tax and other tax payments.

CSF looks forward to working with Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Scott, Chairman Neal, and Chairman DeFazio to advance H.R. 2 as an infrastructure and economic stimulus package providing much needed essential grant and school infrastructure bond investments in our nation’s infrastructure and school facilities.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and CASH to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance California student achievement and success, as we all continue to adjust to the impact COVID-19 has on California schools, students, families, staff, and communities.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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June Federal Update: Government Accounting Office Report on School Facilities, Infrastructure, Rebuild America's Schools Act

June 9, 2020

We hope all are safe and healthy.

Government Accounting Office Report on School Facilities
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a new report that estimates more than half of America’s public school districts are in need of significant repairs to their school facilities.

Click here to view the GAO Report on School Facilities
Click here to view The House Education and Labor Committee Press Release on the GAO Report

According to the report, 54% of school districts across the country must replace or update major systems in more than half their buildings. The GAO Report was requested by Congress last year. Thank you to Senators Reed and Brown, Congressman Scott and others.

The GAO Report found that Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems were most frequently in need of repair, raising concerns about the safety of school facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GAO Report estimates that 4 in 10 districts need to update or replace HVAC systems in at least half of their school buildings, which GAO projects to affect 36,000 school buildings nationwide.

House Infrastructure Bill
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Democrats are introducing a five-year $494 billion infrastructure bill investing in surface and rail transportation: The INVEST Act, investing in a new vision for the environment and surface transportation in America.

The Committee is scheduling a markup on June 17. Other Committees do have jurisdiction. CSF will be tracking this Transportation and Infrastructure Committee bill.

Ways and Means Committee
At some point, the Ways and Means Committee will be dealing with revenue provisions for COVID-19 economic recovery and the Transportation and Infrastructure bill. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act Title II provisions reestablish tax credit bonds, and strengthen QZABS and QSIBs. Reestablishing tax credit bonds, Build America Bonds, and advanced refunding would generate local jobs modernizing, renovating, and repairing schools and classrooms in every state as students return to post COVID-19 school openings.

CSF will continue to work with House Leadership, the Education and Labor Committee, Ways and Means Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the infrastructure bill, school infrastructure and the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

If the Transportation and Infrastructure bill moves forward, CSF will work for an opportunity for provisions to also address school infrastructure and school facility safety needs identified in the GAO Report.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of CSF and CASH to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success, as we all continue to adjust to the impact COVID-19 and other events are having on schools, students, families, staff, and communities.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Update: Is Infrastructure Back on the Table?

March 31, 2020

The President has given his blessing for a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. While politics will certainly be played, and we do not know if schools will be included, this is a good step toward rebuilding the infrastructure throughout the states.

Read the full article from The Hill here: Trump Backs Infrastructure Bill as Next Phase of Coronavirus Relief

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

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CSF Update: Federal Action on School Infrastructure Funding

January 31, 2020

Thank you to all Californians for School Facilities (CSF) members who contacted their Congressional Representative to urge that schools be part of the House of Representative’s infrastructure package.

 When Speaker Pelosi presented the proposal she stated that the final package will take action to rebuild schools based on the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (RASA). CSF was an early supporter of RASA that already has passed the Education and Labor Committee.

This is a great first step towards expanding federal support for school facilities. CSF thanks you, Speaker Pelosi and the California delegation.

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

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CSF Update: Renew America's Schools Act, Energy Grants and Senate Committee Markup

December 9, 2019

We are reporting on an encouraging development in the Senate for school infrastructure. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday is scheduled to consider the Renew America's Schools Act (S.1890). 

The Renew America's Schools Act (S. 1890) is a good bill for CSF. S.1890 would provide support to America's schools to make critical infrastructure upgrades that improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is the sponsor, with both California Senators Feinstein and Harris as co-sponsors along with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Representative David Loebsack (D-IA) is sponsoring a House companion bill, H.R. 3322. 

The Renew America's Schools Act creates a federal grant program through the Department of Energy that would provide $100 million yearly for five years to provide funding for grants to K-12 schools to make eligible energy efficiency improvements.

Those eligible energy efficiency improvements include:

      - Facility improvements for air quality, daylighting, ventilation, and lighting upgrades;

      - The installation of renewable energy technologies to power school systems; and

      - The purchase of zero-emissions vehicles and the installation of necessary infrastructure for those vehicles.

      Background: There is currently a $46 billion annual shortfall in funding for public school infrastructure. In schools throughout the country, buildings often lack proper heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. Energy costs for K-12 schools total approximately $8 billion annually nationwide but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, $2 billion of those dollars can be saved by improving energy efficiency. This cost is equivalent to about 40 million new textbooks or hiring an additional 50,000 teachers at current salaries. 

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approval of the Renew America's Schools Act will set the stage for full Senate consideration of the Renew America’s Schools Act.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Fall Lobbying Trip - October 21-23, 2019

CSF representatives traveled to Washington, D.C. to ask Congress, including House Leadership, the California Delegation, the Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees and House and Senate Committees to invest in school infrastructure to help modernize, repair, and build schools serving California’s 6,186,278 students in 10,521 schools across the state.

The 2017 Infrastructure Report by the Civil Engineers rated school infrastructure as D plus. The Report noted that as state and local governments make significant investment in public K-12 school infrastructure and schools play important civic, educational, and public safety roles in communities, the nation continues to underinvest in school facilities, leaving an estimated $38 billion annual gap.

CSF urges Congress to join state and local partnerships investing in school facility infrastructure, advancing student achievement, success, and career development and generating local construction jobs. CSF asks Congress to act on the House Education and Labor Committee’s Rebuild America’s Schools Act, the restoration of tax credit bonds and other infrastructure legislation investing in our nation’s schools and communities. CSF supports federal investments in our nation’s road, bridge, broadband and school infrastructure.

The House Committee on Education and Labor has approved H.R. 865, The Rebuild America's Schools Act. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act, introduced by Education and Labor’s Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), is co-sponsored by 200 House Members. S. 266, the Senate companion bill sponsored by Senator Reed (D-RI), has 27 cosponsors including California Senators Feinstein and Harris. CSF urges Congress to pass the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act authorizes more than $100 billion in grants and bonds investing in physical and digital school infrastructure. House Democratic leaders see the Rebuild America’s Schools Act as a key piece of the broader infrastructure effort. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act addresses health and safety threats to millions of students and staff posed by older schools in poor condition across the country while creating nearly 2 million jobs, expanding access to high-speed broadband and creating a database on the condition of public school facilities.

Federal investments in school infrastructure are critical as California and other states build, renovate, repair and modernize local schools to advance student achievement and success. CSF asks Congress to support our nation’s students and future by acting to invest in our nation’s school infrastructure.

Californians for School Facilities (CSF) and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) are dedicated to ensuring that California students have access to quality, safe and healthy environments that foster learning and success by advocating for state and federal investments to build, renovate, and maintain K-12 schools.

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CSF Update: Ways & Means Committee, Tax Extenders, School Infrastructure, Rebuild America’s Schools Act

June 20, 2019

The House Ways and Means Committee is considering H.R. 3301 tax extenders today.  

Ways and Means Committee staff told us that they were not able to include Chairman Scott’s tax credit bond school construction piece. The extender definitions were tightly drawn to fit the bill’s offset. We were told school construction is on their radar and they will work with us as a larger bond-finance package is developed. 

When Californians for School Facilities is in D.C. in July, we will continue to work with the Ways and Means Committee staff as they develop a larger bond package. CSF should also continue to build House and Senate support for school infrastructure and co-sponsors for The Rebuild America’s Schools Act, (H.R. 865 and S. 266) among California members, especially Ways and Means Committee members. H.R. 865, which has been reported favorably by the House Education and Labor Committee, currently has 191 co-sponsors including 39 California members (see list below). S. 266 has 27 co-sponsors including California Senators Feinstein and Harris. 

H.R. 865 California Co-sponsors/Date Cosponsored (California Ways and Means Members in bold)

 Rep. Aguilar, Pete [D-CA-31]*                           01/30/2019
Rep. Barragan, Nanette Diaz [D-CA-44]*         01/30/2019
Rep. Brownley, Julia [D-CA-26]*                        01/30/2019
Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]*                  01/30/2019
Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]*                                  01/30/2019
Rep. Cisneros, Gilbert Ray, Jr. [D-CA-39]*       01/30/2019
Rep. Costa, Jim [D-CA-16]*                                 01/30/2019
Rep. Davis, Susan A. [D-CA-53]*                        01/30/2019
Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]*                     01/30/2019
Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]*                        01/30/2019
Rep. Garamendi, John [D-CA-3]*                        01/30/2019
Rep. Gomez, Jimmy [D-CA-34]*                         01/30/2019
Rep. Harder, Josh [D-CA-10]*                              01/30/2019
Rep. Hill, Katie [D-CA-25]*                                    01/30/2019
Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]*                            01/30/2019
Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]*                                01/30/2019
Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]*                              01/30/2019
Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33]*                                     01/30/2019
Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19]*                               01/30/2019
Rep. Lowenthal, Alan S. [D-CA-47]*                     01/30/2019
Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-6]*                           01/30/2019
Rep. McNerney, Jerry [D-CA-9]*                            01/30/2019
Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]*                 01/30/2019
Rep. Panetta, Jimmy [D-CA-20]*                        01/30/2019
Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40]*                01/30/2019
Rep. Sanchez, Linda T. [D-CA-38]*                     01/30/2019
Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-28]*                          01/30/2019
Rep. Swalwell, Eric [D-CA-15]*                            01/30/2019
Rep. Takano, Mark [D-CA-41]*                             01/30/2019
Rep. Torres, Norma J. [D-CA-35]*                       01/30/2019
Rep. Vargas, Juan [D-CA-51]*                             01/30/2019
Rep. Waters, Maxine [D-CA-43]*                         01/30/2019
Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37]                                02/05/2019
Rep. Cox, TJ [D-CA-21]                                         02/19/2019
Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49]                                   02/26/2019
Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]                            03/12/2019
Rep. Rouda, Harley [D-CA-48]                             04/01/2019
Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]                                 04/01/2019
Rep. Speier, Jackie [D-CA-14]                              04/25/2019 

Thanks to all who support CSF and CASH efforts to build, repair, renovate, and modernize California’s schools and classrooms, advancing student achievement and producing jobs in local California communities.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Summer Lobbying Trip - July 15-17, 2019
Washington, D.C.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has introduced a new infrastructure bill with provisions that will help schools. These school provisions include:

        Expanded access to high-speed broadband
        Lead testing grants
        Energy efficiency grants
        Clean school bus grants
        School construction and renovation grants

The bill is called the "Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's America Act."

CSF's summer Washington, D.C. trip is scheduled for Monday-Wednesday, July 15-17, 2019. Our Washington, D.C. advocate Bob Cananvan will be arranging meetings for July 16 and 17. Mark your calendar to join this trip and lend your voice to our lobbying. More details, including registration, will be available soon.

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

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CSF April Federal Update

April 16, 2019

As CSF noted last week, Congressional Democratic leaders Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer said they would seek President Trump’s support for legislation to invest up to $2 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools. CSF is working on opportunities to advance support for school infrastructure.

Rebuild America’s Schools Act
The House Education and Labor Committee has favorably approved the Rebuild America’s Schools Act to invest in our nation’s school infrastructure. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act addresses a national need to assist states and local school districts to in providing safe, modern, healthy, energy efficient schools for our nation’s students. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act provides federal financial support through grants and tax credit bonds to help repair, renovate and modernize America’s schools, stimulating and creating local jobs.

CSF is working with House leadership, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Scott, and other House Committee Chairs as the House coordinates efforts for infrastructure legislation and the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. Chairman Neal (D-MA) and the Ways and Means Committee have jurisdiction on tax credit bonds and Chairman DeFazio (D-OR) and the Transportation Committee will be engaged on infrastructure bills.

Tax Extenders: Add Title II Rebuild America’s Schools Act, Restore QZAB Tax Credit Bonds
The House Ways and Means Committee, led by Chairman Neal (D-MA), may consider tax extenders in May. This could open the door for CSF to work with California Ways and Means Committee Members to restore Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and other tax credit bonds which were cut in the Taxpayer Relief Act. Previously, the QZAB program had been reauthorized with other tax extenders on a bipartisan basis since originally authorized in 1997. CSF will ask the California Members of the Ways and Means Committee to work with Chairman Neal to restore the QZABs and other tax credit bonds by including Title II of the Rebuild America’s School Act with any tax extenders bill.

California Ways and Means Committee Members are: Mike Thompson, Linda Sanchez, Judy Chu, Jimmy Panetta, Jimmy Gomez and Devin Nunes.

Title II of the Rebuild America’s School Act, School infrastructure bonds includes:

• Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) restored – restores certain qualified tax credit bonds as if the repeal by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had not taken effect;
• Allows for the proceeds from QZABs to be used for construction of public school facilities;
• QZAB authorization raised to $1.4 billion;
• Local private contribution requirement removed;
• Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds authorized for $30 billion, $10 billion each for FY 2020, FY 2021, and FY 2022.

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act and tax extenders are just two of the potential opportunities to advance school infrastructure this year. CSF will be working with the California Congressional delegation, House and Senate leaders, and Congressional Committees for federal support and investment in California school facility infrastructure.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of CSF and CASH to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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U.S. Democrats seek up to $2 trillion to invest in aging infrastructure - Reuters

April 12, 2019

Californians for School Facilities (CSF) is making progress in urging greater federal investment in school facilities. The following is from the April 11, 2019 Reuters article titled, U.S. Democrats seek up to $2 trillion to invest in aging infrastructure.

“LEESBURG, Va./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders in Congress said on Thursday they would seek President Donald Trump’s support in coming weeks for legislation to invest up to $2 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, including roads, bridges and schools.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said at separate news conferences they would try to revive an effort that sputtered early in Trump’s presidency for major investments in aging public works.” Click to view the full article online.

View the article as a PDF

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

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CSF Update: Rebuild America's Schools Act, H.R. 865: Education and Labor Committee Mark-Up on Tuesday, February 26

February 22, 2019

The House Education and Labor Committee is scheduled on Tuesday, February 26 at 10:15 a.m. to mark-up H.R. 865, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act school infrastructure bill, sponsored by Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA), with 164 House co-sponsors.

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act key provisions include:

  • Title I – Grants for the long term improvement of public school facilities

      Authorizes $70 billion allocation to states.

  • Title II – School Infrastructure Bonds

-Qualified School Construction Bonds (QZABs) restored: restores certain qualified tax credit bonds as if the repeal by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act had not taken effect;

Allows for the proceeds from QZABs to be used for construction of public school facilities;

-QZAB authorization raised to $1.4 billion;

-Local private contribution requirement removed;

-Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds authorized for $30 billion, $10 billion each for FY 2020, FY 2021, FY 2022; and

-High Speed Broadband: States may distribute up to 10% to enable LEAs to leverage existing public programs or public private partnerships to expand high speed broadband sufficient for digital learning.

  • Impact Aid Construction

    -Provides a temporary increase of $170 million to Impact Aid Construction under ESSA for FY 2020 through FY 2023.

Californians for School Facilities supports the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. We encourage CSF and CASH supporters to express support for the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

Below is a list of California House Members of the Education and Labor Committee. All California Committee members are co-sponsors of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

      • Susan A. Davis (D)
      • Mark Takano (D)
      • Mark DeSaulnier (D)
      • Josh Harder (D)

      CSF will provide additional updates as the House Education and Labor Committee considers and acts to approve the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.  

Thanks to all who support the efforts of CSF and CASH to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF February 2019 Lobbying Trip Recap

February 20, 2019

Californians for School Facilities (CSF) provides California schools federal lobbying for nationwide school facility program funding. With the leadership of Bob Canavan, CSF’s Washington, D.C. lobbyist, John Dominguez (CSF Vice Chair), Joe Dixon (CSF and CASH Past Chair), John Baracy (CASH Board Member) and David Walrath were in Washington, D.C. to lobby for The Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019, H.R. 865 (Scott) and S. 266 (Reed), that would provide $100 billion in federal support for school facilities.

Click to view the Rebuild America’s School Fact Sheet and Section-by-Section Guide

Click here for the Full H.R. 865 Bill Text

Click here to view the current California Co-Sponsors of H.R. 865

The legislation’s most significant provisions are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Re-establishing Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) at $1.4 billion per year that we expect   would provide California about $150 million per year in these tax credit bonds (prior authorization was $400 million per year, of which California received about $42 million per year).

- Makes QZAB reforms to eliminate the required 10% local match, allows for some new construction and makes QZABs easier to use.

- Creates Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds (QSIB) authorized for $30 billion ($10 billion for each of 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23).

    - Provides $70 billion in grants for school facility repair, renovation and some construction.

    - Allows up to 10% of the funds to be used for expanding high-speed broadband access for digital learning.

    - Requires energy efficiency provisions.

While in Washington, D.C., CSF’s delegates met with the following offices:

  • Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • Office of Senator Jack Reed
  • Office of Senator Sherrod Brown
  • Office of Senator Kamala Harris
  • Office of Congressman Salud Carbajal
  • Office of Congressman Mike Thompson
  • House Education and Labor Committee Staff
  • Office of Congressman Adam Schiff
  • Senate Finance Committee Staff
  • Office of Congressman Harley Rouda
  • Office of the House Speaker

CSF thanks all of these offices and especially Speaker Pelosi’s office for her strong support and leadership ensuring school facilities are part of the infrastructure package.

David Walrath
CSF Coordinator

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House Education & Labor Commitee Press Release

January 30, 2019

House and Senate Democrats Unveil Proposal to Invest More than $100 Billion in America’s Public Schools

Chairman Scott, Senator Reed introduce Rebuild America’s Schools Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, led House and Senate Democrats in introducing a proposal to invest more than $100 billion in America’s public schools. The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 865) would fund $70 billion in grants and $30 billion in bonds to help address critical physical and digital infrastructure needs in schools across the country. According to economic projections, the bill would also create more than 1.9 million good-paying jobs.

Click here to read the full press release on the House Education & Labor Committee website.

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CSF Update: House-Senate Rebuild America's Schools Act Joint Reintroduction

January 25, 2019

Good news as CSF prepares for the Washington, D.C. School Infrastructure Trip, February 6-8: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Scott (D-VA) and Senator Reed (D-RI) are jointly re-introducing the Rebuild America’s Schools Act in the House and Senate.

Click here to view the full text of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act

Click here to view a section-by-section breakdown of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act

Click here to view the fact sheet on the Rebuild America's Schools Act

CSF Supports the Rebuild America’s Schools Act

CSF supports the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which will provide federal grants and bonds to assist California and local California school districts in building, repairing, renovating and modernizing California schools and classrooms.   

Rebuild America’s Schools Act – Key Provisions

Title I Grants for the long-term improvement of public school facilities:

$70 billion allocation to states authorized.

Title II School Infrastructure Bonds:

QZABs Restored: Restores certain qualified tax credit bonds as if the repeal by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 had not taken effect.

Allows for the proceeds from QZABs to be used for construction of public school facilities.

QZAB authorization raised to $1.4 billion.

Local private contribution requirement removed.

Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds authorized for $30 billion; $ 10 billion each for FY 2020, FY 2021, FY 2022.

High Speed Broadband: States may distribute up to 10% to enable LEAs to leverage existing public programs or public private partnerships to expand high speed broadband sufficient for digital learning.

 Impact Aid Construction:

Provides a temporary increase of $170 million to Impact Aid Construction under ESSA for FY 2020 through FY 2023.

         

CSF thanks and looks forward to working with Chairman Scott and Senator Reed and their co-sponsor colleagues as the Rebuild America’s Schools Act is introduced and considered in the 116th Congress.

This Act will provide federal financial assistance partnering with California and local California school districts to provide safe, modern, healthy, energy-efficient schools for our students. Federal financial support through Rebuild America’s Schools Act grants and bonds will help repair, renovate and modernize California’s schools and create local jobs.  The Act will help provide California students modern, technologically and energy efficient schools and classrooms where they can develop the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workforce.

Rebuild America’s Schools Act – Co-Sponsors

As they prepare for introduction, the Senate bill has 12 co-sponsors to date, including California Senator Harris. The House bill has 122 co-sponsors.  

Click here for the full list of 122 House co-sponsors of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. CSF especially thanks the 27 California member co-sponsors highlighted. Thank you to Senator Harris as one of the 12 current co-sponsors of the Senate version of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. CSF will contact other California House members to join as co-sponsors of this important Act.  

CSF looks forward to working together with Chairman Scott and Senator Reed to advance the Rebuild America’s Schools Act investment in our nation’s school infrastructure to modernize our students’ schools and classrooms, to advance student success and achievement, and to generate local jobs.  

Please join CSF’s effort and if possible participate in the CSF School Facility Washington, D.C. Advocacy Trip February 6-8, 2019.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF January Update: 116th Congress, Government Shutdown, Rebuild America’s School Act, CSF Advocacy Trip Feb. 6-8

January 14, 2019

A new Congress has arrived in Washington and school infrastructure will be in play as House Democrats focus on infrastructure as a priority issue. Funding for education programs including special education IDEA state grants, ESSA Title I, and Career and Technical Education for next Fiscal Year 2020 will be on the table as the new Congress develops the FY 2020 budget and appropriations plans under new rules potentially affecting budget and spending caps. But, before Congress can start on these issues, it also has to finish FY 2019 funding and reopen 9 federal agencies.

115th Congress Adjourned January 2
The lame duck session of the 115th Congress quietly adjourned on January 2nd in the middle of a partial government shut down without completing Fiscal Year 2019 funding for 9 federal agencies. The government shutdown began in December after the President declined to sign a Continuing Resolution passed by the House and Senate extending agency funding until February 8 because he expected additional funding for a border wall.

116th Congress Convened January 3
The 116th Congress was sworn in on Thursday, January 4th with the House of Representatives controlled by a new Democrat majority and led by a new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In her remarks to the House, Speaker Pelosi called for, "Building an economy for all Americans, giving them the tools they need to succeed in the 21st Century: public education, workforce development, good-paying jobs and secure pensions." Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will serve as Republican Minority Leader.

New California House Members
The 53 Member California Congressional delegation is undergoing changes, now with 46 Democrat members and 7 Republican members. There are 6 new Democrat members. The new members by Congressional district are:

10     Josh Harder (Turlock)
21     T.J. Cox (Fresno)
25      Katie Hall (Santa Clarita)
39      Gilbert Cisneros (Yorba Linda)
48      Harley Rouda (Laguna Beach)
49      Mike Levin (San Juan Capistrano)

Role of CSF and CASH
Now is the time for these new members of Congress and the staff in their new local district offices to learn about how Californians For School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing support the California school districts who build, renovate, repair and modernize California school infrastructure facilities, advancing the education success of California students and communities.

House Government Funding Vote
The new House majority acted quickly to address the FY 2019 funding delay by passing, with a 241-190 vote, a $272.4 billion spending package (H.R. 21) combining six unfinished Appropriations bills that would fund the Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and State departments through September. A similar package of Appropriations bills was previously approved in the Senate bipartisanly last year on a vote of 92-6.

The new House also passed a stop-gap Continuing Resolution (H.J. Res 1) on a vote of 239-192, extending current funding for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 to allow time for negotiations on the President’s disputed border wall.

Senate and President on Government Funding
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) is taking the position that the Senate will only take up agency funding legislation if it has enough bipartisan support to pass the Senate and has the President’s support and commitment to sign. The President is refusing to sign bills reopening the closed agencies until $5 billion is provided for the border wall. The Administration issued veto threats if the House funding bills reach the President. "Without a wall you cannot have border security." The President, in a White House address, said there is a “national crisis” at the border. Democratic leaders disagreed with his description of the situation on the border.

Government Shutdown Stalemate
The House completed a FY 2019 funding package for 8 agencies and extended Homeland Security Funding, and is now passing funding bills for individual agencies (bills previously overwhelmingly approved by the Senate). However, the negotiations between the President and Congressional leaders to end the government shut down remain stalled over the President’s “wall”. Some members of Congress have proposed a compromise solution, providing the $5 billion sought by the President for a border wall while offering temporary legal status to Dreamers, but that has not gained any traction. The government shutdown is now in its third week. The stalemate continues and 9 federal agencies remain closed, federal services are temporarily discontinued and over 800,000 federal workers across the country are not being paid.

Note: The Department of Education is open and fully funded for FY 2019 with funding provided for ESSA, IDEA, CTA and other education programs.

116th Congress and School Infrastructure
Californians for School Facilities will work with the 116th Congress and the House Democratic majority, with 40 new members including the 6 new California members, for investments in school infrastructure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on election night cited school infrastructure as a priority of the Democrat majority.

CSF supports school infrastructure bills such as Congressman Scott's Rebuild America's Schools Act (H.R. 2475) providing more than $75 million in grants and financing for bonds to underwrite school infrastructure facilities and Senators Reed and Brown's School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674).

Rebuild America’s Schools Act – 116th Congress
Congressman Scott and Senators Reed and Brown are planning to merge their school infrastructure bills into a new Rebuild America’s Schools Act which is expected to be introduced in both the House and the Senate in January. The joint Rebuild America’s Schools Act will include grants and bonds to help assist state and local school districts to finance the $513 billion in school facilities needs across the country. 106 members of the House have already agreed to co-sponsor the Rebuild America’s Schools Act.

California House members early Rebuild America’s Schools Act co-sponsors: Aguilar, Diaz Barragan, Brownley, Chu, Davis, Eshoo, Huffman, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Napolitano, Panetta, Roybal-Allard, Swalwell, and Takano. CSF thanks these co-sponsors and will request that all California members co-sponsor the bill.

Congressman Scott, as Chair of the Education and Labor Committee, is planning early hearings on and consideration of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act followed by floor action in the House of Representatives.

CSF February 6-8 Advocacy Trip
During our February 6-8 advocacy trip, CSF will advocate for federal support for California’s school infrastructure by asking California members to support and co-sponsor the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. CSF will also work with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees for tax credit bonds such as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, Build America Bonds, and Energy Bonds which have assisted California school districts build, repair, renovate and modernize schools and classrooms across California.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CSF December Update: Lame Duck Continuing Resolution, School Infrastructure, 116th Congress & CSF Feb. 2019 Lobbying Trip

December 11, 2018

Continuing Resolution December 21 Deadline
This week the House, by unanimous consent, and Senate, on a voice vote, passed a Continuing Resolution which the President is expected to sign. The Continuing Resolution Bill (H.J. Res. 143) will provide funding for the nine departments and assorted agencies that don't yet have full-year spending bills as well as extending a number of expiring authorizations, including Violence Against Women Act programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the National Flood Insurance Program through December 21.

The seven remaining spending bills need to be packaged together by December 21 or federal agencies such as the Agriculture, Interior and Homeland Security Departments will face a funding lapse for the remainder of the 2019 Fiscal Year. The President is insisting on full funding of $5 billion for a border wall. It is a major topic of the funding negotiations. Tuesday December 11, Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer, (NY) and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) are scheduled to meet with the President at the White House.

House Tax Bill
Ways and Means Committee Chair Brady and the Republican Committee majority have sent a tax bill (H.R. 88) to the House Floor. House leaders scheduled, but ultimately pulled, the Republican-backed tax package from the House Floor schedule. H.R. 88 is estimated to cost more than $54 billion over a decade. The bill was drafted without any consultation or input from Ways and Means Democrats and is a list of tax breaks and changes that House Republicans would like to pass before the House changes hands in January. The bill includes changes at the IRS with extensions of more than two dozen expired tax breaks and corrections to last year's tax code overhaul (P.L. 115-97). There was no opportunity to consider reinstating the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and tax credit bonds cut by the House in last year’s tax bill.

Democrats criticized the last minute lame duck session tax package, which includes specific, fixes to last year's tax bill. Rep. Richard E. Neal, (D-MA) the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee and incoming Chair of the Committee in the 116th Congress, accused Republicans of "fiscal malpractice" by offering the package in the lame duck session.

Californians for School Facilities supports the reinstatement, continuation and extension of the cost effective QZABs and other tax credit bond programs. CSF is asking the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to reinstate, continue and improve the QZAB program. Tax credit bonds such as QZABs are cost effective, providing critical financial support for modern, technologically and energy efficient schools and classrooms. It is still possible that the bill will be considered in the House in the few days left in the lame duck session, but Senate consideration is uncertain.

CSF is also asking the Senate Finance Committee to reinstate, continue and improve private activity bonds and also to sustain municipal bonds. Senate consideration of the tax bill is very uncertain, especially since the lame duck session has few legislative days remaining. An effort could be made to include some of the tax bill provisions in an end of session package. CSF will continue to follow this tax bill and to advocate for the reinstatement of QZABs and tax credit bonds in the lame duck session.

116th Congress School Infrastructure
CSF will work with the 116th Congress and the House Democratic majority, with 40 new members including 7 new California members, for investments in school infrastructure. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on election night cited school infrastructure as a priority of the Democrat majority. CSF supports bills such as Congressman Scott's Rebuild America's Schools Act (H.R. 2475) providing more than $75 million in grants and financing for bonds to underwrite school infrastructure facilities and Senators Reed and Brown's School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674).

CSF February 6-8 Advocacy Trip – Register Today!
During our February 6-8 advocacy trip, CSF will also work with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees for tax credit bonds such as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, Build America Bonds, and Energy Bonds which have assisted California school districts to build, repair, renovate and modernize schools and classrooms across California.

Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

._______________________________________________________________________________________________ 

November 2018 Election Update

November 7, 2018

While there still are a lot of ballots to count in numerous, very close state and national contests the following is a topline update, subject to the final vote certifications:

California Statewide Results

  • U.S. Senator: Re-election of Dianne Feinstein
  • California Congressional Delegation: Democrats 42, Republicans 10 and 1 too close to call
  • State Offices: Democrats 8; No Party Preference 0, Republicans 0
  • State Senate: Return to the 2/3 majority for Democrats, with 27 Democrats and 12 Republicans (27 needed for 2/3 and 1 too close to call)
  • State Assembly: Exceeding 2/3 majority of Democrats, with 56 Democrats and 21 Republicans (54 needed for 2/3 and 3 too close to call)
  • Proposition 5: Base Year Property Tax – FAILED
  • Proposition 6: Roads, Bridges and Highway Funding Repeal – FAILED
  • Proposition 8: Dialysis Funding and Regulation – FAILED
  • Proposition 10: Local Control for Rent Control – FAILED

    National Results
  • House of Representatives: Democrats 221, Republicans 194 and 20 too close to call
  • United States Senate: Republicans 53 and Democrats 46, with 1 too close to call

With the House of Representatives flipping to be Democratic-controlled, the opportunity for Rebuild America’s Schools legislation has increased significantly. Mr. Scott (VA) will be chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee. He has indicated that Rebuild America’s Schools will be one of the first pieces of legislation he wants the Committee to consider passing to the full House Floor. That legislation would provide $70 billion over 10 years for school facilities; 60% would be in grants and 40% would be in tax credit bonds such as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs). This is a very positive situation for CSF and all California schools because, if passed in its current form, the legislation would provide close to $10 billion for California schools during the next decade.

The President appears to be interested in infrastructure and we hope that Rebuild America’s Schools will be the type of infrastructure he is willing to support.

CSF will be back in Washington to lobby for school facilities to be included in any infrastructure package. We will be in Washington during either the last week of January 2019 or the first week of February 2019. Please save these dates! We will provide more information in the next two weeks.

-Dave Walrath, CSF Coordinator

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CSF October Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C.:
Post-Trip Summary and Update

October 15, 2018

A Californians for School Facilities (CSF)/Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) team traveled to Washington, D.C. October 10-12th, advocating for federal investments to partner with California efforts to modernize California’s schools and classrooms.   

CSF is urging Congress to make federal investments with state and local partnerships supporting school facility infrastructure, advancing student achievement, success, and career development and generating local construction jobs.

 The CSF team also highlighted the critical role schools play assisting emergency services in local communities during natural disasters such as the California wildfires and the recent North and South Carolina and Florida hurricanes. It is critical that local schools receive emergency support to continue providing essential education and other services to their students and communities.   

House School Infrastructure

The CSF team met with senior staff of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to discuss school infrastructure as a policy priority in the next Congress. The discussion centered on Congressman Bobby Scott’s H.R. 2475, The Rebuild America’s Schools Act bill, providing grants and financing for bonds to underwrite school infrastructure facilities. Congressman Scott, as the Ranking Member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, will become Chair of the Committee in the 116th Congress if the Democrats take control of the House in the mid-term election. Congressman Scott’s Rebuild America’s Schools Act has 116 co-sponsors, including 23 members of the California House delegation. The CSF conversation with Committee staff was very positive. 

Tax Credit Bonds, Build America Bonds, Ways and Means Committee

The CSF team also met with senior staff of the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss how tax credit bonds such as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs), Build America Bonds and Energy Bonds have assisted California school districts to build, repair, renovate and modernize schools and classrooms across California. The CSF team discussed how the Ways and Means Committee will consider infrastructure and financing for school facilities through programs such as Build America Bonds, tax credit bonds such as QZABs, QSCBs, and energy bonds early in the next session of Congress.   

School Facility Study and Senate School Infrastructure Legislation S.1674, The School Building Improvement Act

The CSF team met with staff of Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to thank them for a provision in the enacted Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriation bill for a national study of state school facility needs. This information will provide updated data on the pressing need for school facilities infrastructure in California and every state. The CSF team also expressed CSF’s support for Senator Reed and Senator Brown’s S. 1674, The School Building Improvement Act, to provide grants and bonds to finance school infrastructure facilities.

 California Senators

The CSF team spoke briefly with Senator Feinstein and briefed the staff of Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris on the multi-billion dollar need to invest in California school facilities and the ongoing efforts to build, repair and improve school infrastructure in local districts, schools and classrooms across California. CSF requested that Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris join Senator Reed and Senator Brown and other Senators as co-sponsors of The School Building Improvement Act. 

Trip Assessment

Overall, the CSF team received positive and encouraging responses and clear indications from California members and senior Committee staff that school infrastructure will be an early priority in the next Congress. CSF will continue to urge Congress to make federal investments with state and local partnerships supporting school facility infrastructure, advancing student achievement, success, and career development and generating local construction jobs. 

Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success. 

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF September Washington Update:
School Funding and School Facility Infrastructure Update

September 21, 2018

Among many issues, Congress is facing the approach of the beginning of the 2019 Fiscal Year on October 1. The Defense and Labor, HHS and Education appropriations bill is on the verge of passage as part of a merged bill funding for the Department of Defense. At the Department of Education, the bill includes minimal funding increases for IDEA and Title I. The combined Defense and Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Bill Conference Report includes language directing the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the condition of the public school facilities (including charter schools) of the United States and their adequacy to support a 21st Century education.

Senate adopts Defense and Labor, HHS and Education funding H.R. 6157 Conference Report

The Senate has adopted the Conference Report for a bill combining the FY 2019 Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations covering more than 60 percent of all discretionary spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1. By a vote of 93-7, the Senate approved the $855.1 billion package (H.R. 6157) that would fund the military and the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor.

 The conference package now goes to the House for expected adoption next week. Some Republican conservatives have threatened to oppose it, saying the nondefense spending is excessive and does not reflect Republican priorities. House leaders are not expressing concerns about House approval of the Conference Report which is expected to have broad bipartisan support. ‘Yes’ votes from Democrats supporting the Labor, HHS, Education section of the bill should offset any ‘No’ votes from Republican conservatives.

 Comptroller General School Facilities Study on Condition of Public School Facilities

The Conference Report included the following language referencing a provision in the Senate passed Labor, HHS and Education appropriations bill: “The conferees delete without prejudice section 315 of the Senate bill and direct the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the condition of the public school facilities (including charter schools) of the United States and their adequacy to support a 21st Century education as described in section 315 of division B of H.R. 6157 as passed by the Senate on August 23, 2018.”

 This bipartisan language is a step forward in gathering data about school facility conditions to support federal school infrastructure investments supporting state and local effort to provide school facilities to support a 21st Century education. Infrastructure is expected to be a priority issue in the next Congress. 21st Century school facilities are a critical component of our national infrastructure.

 CSF thanks the Senate and House Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Committee conferees for the language directing the Comptroller General to conduct a Study on the condition of public school facilities and their adequacy to support a 21st Century education. Particular thanks to Senators Reed (D-RI), Brown (D-OH) and Murkowski (R-AK) for the original Senate Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations school facility study provision.

 CSF is urging Congress to make federal investments with state and local partnerships supporting school facility infrastructure, advancing student achievement, success, and career development and generating local construction jobs.

 School Infrastructure Legislation

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) sponsored by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) with 115 cosponsors, and The School Building Improvement Act (S.1674) sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with 15 co-sponsors, call for grants and bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure. This legislation as well as earlier federal programs providing school repair grants, tax credit Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs), and Build America Bonds connect with the Administration’s focus on federal and state and local infrastructure partnerships and state and local decision making.

 FY 2019 Education Funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee summarized funding for elementary and secondary education program funding in the approved conference agreement on H.R. 6157, the combined Defense, Labor, HHS and Education funding bill, noting a combined increase of $299 million for major formula programs including Title I, IDEA, Student Support Grants, and Impact Aid. Overall, that is a small increase spread over major programs including Title I and IDEA.

The biggest education increases:

        Title I State Grants – up $100 million, to $15.9 billion

        Special Education State Grants – up $87 million, to $12.4 billion

        Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants – up $70 million, to $1.17 billion (a smaller increase than in both the House and Senate bills)

        Career and Technical Education State Grants – up $70 million, to $1.3 billion

        TRIO Programs – up $50 million, to $1.1 billion

        Two increases outside of the Department of Education – Head Start receives a $200 million increase, for a total of $10.1 billion, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant receives a $50 million increase, for a total of $5.3 billion

FY 2019 Continuing Resolution

The Defense, Labor, HHS, and Education Conference Report also includes a short term FY 2019 Continuing Resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown on October 1, when the new fiscal year begins. The Continuing Resolution would extend current funding levels through December 7 for any federal agencies that do not secure FY 2019 appropriations before the current fiscal year expires.

 If the President signs the combined Defense, Labor, HHS, and Education bill, funding for education programs will be completed for the 2019 fiscal year. The President supports the significant $19.8 billion increase in Defense spending included in the combined bill, despite Administration concerns that the Labor, HHS and Education bill funds programs not included in the President’s budget.

 There is a possibility that the President may threaten to shut down the government, or part of it, if he does not get funding for a border wall. But current expectations are that the Defense, Labor, HHS and Education package to fund most of the government with a Continuing Resolution preventing a partial shutdown will pass the House and be enacted next week.

Stay tuned! We will provide more information next week as the House takes up the Defense, Labor, HHS, and Education Conference Report and the as the new fiscal year approaches on October 1.

 Thanks to all who support the efforts of Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF July Washington Update: School Infrastructure, Education and School Safety Funding

July 17, 2018

Californians for School Facilities (CSF) focuses on building support for investments in school facilities and school safety.

 California and other states and local governments across the county are investing in school facility infrastructure advancing student achievement, success and career development and also producing local construction jobs. Unfortunately, school infrastructure needs are beyond the capacity of state and local communities. Federal financial assistance is needed to supplement state and local partnerships to renovate, repair, modernize and build schools and classrooms, promoting student success and community jobs.  

School Infrastructure Legislation

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) sponsored by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) with 115 co-sponsors and The School Building Improvement Act (S.1674) sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with 15 co-sponsors call for grants and bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure. This legislation, as well as earlier federal programs providing school repair grants, tax credit Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, and Build America Bonds connect with the Administration’s focus on federal and state and local infrastructure partnerships and state and local decision making. 

CSF is urging Congress to make federal investments with state and local partnerships supporting school facility infrastructure, advancing student achievement, success, and career development and generating local construction jobs.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act Omnibus Appropriations Bill was passed by Congress in March to provide discretionary funding for federal government agencies for the 2018 fiscal year. The bill contains legislation and funding for all of the 12 annual Appropriations bills totaling $1.3 trillion, including $78.1 billion in funding for the Global War on Terror (GWOT)/Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Total base funding, excluding OCO and emergencies, is $1.2 trillion.  

The House Appropriations Committee bill summary included the following statement on school safety: “To help protect children and to promote safe learning environments, the bill provides more than $2.3 billion in new funding to effective mental health, training and school safety programs at the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services.” Those funds are broadly distributed across programs at the Departments of Justice, Education, and HHS.  

Department of Education Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grants

The grants provide $1.1 billion, $700 million above FY 17 level. Grants providing flexible funds to states and school districts, including to expand school-based mental health services and supports; for bullying prevention; and for professional development for personnel in crisis management and school-based violence prevention strategies with an additional $186 million, an increase of nearly $35 million, for other safe schools programs. 

Congress is now working on the FY 2019 Appropriations bills. Below is information on the FY 2019 Labor, HHS and Education and Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bills with information about funding on school safety as well as other education programs such as Title I and IDEA.  

House Appropriations Committee Approves Labor, HHS, ED FY 2019 Appropriations Bill

The full House Appropriations Committee marked-up the Labor, HHS and ED bill on Wednesday July 11. The Committee adopted a manager’s amendment which added $73 million more for four education programs, as well as language dealing with student loans - increasing the total for the Department of Education to $71 billion. The $73 million in new funding under the manager’s amendment is for the following programs:

  • $47 million for school safety national activities – with this additional funding, the bill now provides $90 million, the same as the FY 2019 level. The bill now provides $47 million more than the President’s request and $5 million less the Senate bill.
  • $13 million for Child Care Means Parents in School – with this additional higher education funding, the bill now provides $50 million, the same as the FY 2018 level and the Senate bill.
  • $10 million for HBCU financing – for deferment of loans to eligible private Historically Black Colleges and Universities which is $5 million above the FY 2018 level.
  • $3 million for American history and civics national activities – with this additional funding, the bill now provides $4.7 million, $3 million above the FY 18 level.
  • Perkins Loans – the amendment adds language designed to let universities continue to service the Perkins Loans.

House FY 2019 Education Funding: Title I frozen, IDEA increased $50 million, $47 million school safety cut restored

The FY 2019 Labor, HHS, and Education funding bill freezes Title I at the FY 2018 level. IDEA receives a very small increase of $50 million. The manager’s amendment restores cuts of $47 million to school safety national activities, $5 million of school safety funding is reserved for Project SERV. Title II and Title IV programs are funded over the President’s call for elimination. The House Subcommittee bill includes language prohibiting the Department of Education from reorganizing or cutting its Budget Service.

Senate FY 2019 Funding

The full Senate Appropriations Committee on June 29 approved the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill. IDEA and Title I received modest $125 million increases, $95 million for School Safety.

Senate Full Appropriations Committee

The full Senate Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations approved the Labor, HHS, and Education bill subcommittee bill on a 30-1 vote. The $179.3 billion Labor, HHS, Education bill, about $2 billion bigger than the House version, would provide $90.1 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, $71.4 billion for the Education Department and $12.1 billion for the Labor Department.

FY 2019 Senate Education Funding, $95 million for School Safety

Most Department of Education programs are frozen at current levels – the bill freezes funding for most programs at the current level, with a few programs receiving increases. The IDEA state grant and Title I programs are increased by $125 million. The Senate’s bill provides $95 million for school safety grants, an increase of $5 million from the current fiscal year. The bill does not include the $1 billion the President’s budget requests for a new Opportunity Grant Program.

Programs receiving increases over $10 million:

  • Title I State Grants – total of $15.9 billion, up $125 million. The President’s FY 2019 budget provides $15.5 billion.
  • Title IV-A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) – total of $1.2 billion, up $125 million. The President’s budget eliminates this program.
  • Special Education State Grants – a total of $13.32 billion. Part B state grants are at $12.4 billion, up $125 million. The President’s budget provides $12.8 billion.
  • Charter Schools – total of $445 million, up $45 million, but $55 million below the President’s budget.
  • Impact Aid – total of $1.4 billion, up $25 million over the FY 2018 level. The President’s budget cuts funding to $1.3 billion.
  • Adult Education – a total of $656 million, up $25 million. The President’s budget cuts funding to $50 million.
  • Education Innovation and Research – a total of $135 million, up $15 million, but $55 million below President’s budget.
  • Head Start (in HHS) – total of $10.1 billion, up $250 million. The President’s budget provides $9.3 billion.

Senate Full Appropriations Committee Mark-Up

The bipartisan Senate Labor, HHS and Education bill was approved in a full Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up considering the Labor, HHS and Education bill and the Defense Appropriations bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to package the Labor, HHS and Education and Defense Appropriations bills together as a way to gain conservative votes to support for the Labor, HHS and Education bill.

Justice Department: Gun Crimes, School Safety and Youth Mentoring Program Funding

The House Commerce, Justice and Science FY 2019 Appropriations bill increases resources for multiple programs that reduce violent and gun crime, including fully funding the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System; increasing funds for U.S. Attorneys and the Marshals Service to address violent crime; provides $75 million in grants to states to improve their records used in background checks; $50 million in grants to reduce gang and gun violence; $100 million as authorized by the STOP School Violence Act; $100 million for youth mentoring programs; and $20 million for police active shooter training.

 The Senate Appropriations Committee approved FY 2019 Commerce, Justice and Science with full funding for the Department of Justice STOP School Violence Act. The STOP School Violence Act, passed in the FY2018 Omnibus, is fully funded at its authorized level of $100 million.

 

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Approves Bill reauthorizing Perkins Career and Technical Education

The Senate HELP Committee agreed unanimously, by voice vote, to favorably pass and report a bipartisan bill reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The HELP Committee bill, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, would reauthorize the Perkins program last reauthorized by Congress in 2006. The Committee bill allows states to establish certain goals for CTE programs without approval by the Secretary of Education. The bill does require “meaningful progress” to be made to meet goals on key indicators. The bill also clarifies that federal CTE funds can be used in middle schools.

 The House passed the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, H. R. 2353, CTE reauthorization in 2017. If the Senate approves the HELP Committee Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the Senate and House will meet in conference to reconcile the differences in the two versions of the CTE reauthorization.

Administration Proposal for Reorganization plan for Departments of Education and Labor

The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the Administration’s proposal to merge the Departments of Education and Labor. The Administration's reorganization plan would create a new agency called the “Department of Education and the Workforce,” or DEW. The proposal is part of a 132-page document outlining a broad restructuring of the federal government. The proposed merger is part of a plan announced by Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  

Consolidation of the Education and Labor Departments would create four sub-agencies in the new Department, including the American Workforce and Higher Education Administration. This agency would, according to the proposal, “Bring together current [Department of Labor] workforce development programs and [Department of Education] vocational education, rehabilitation, and higher education programs,” eliminating some redundancy across multiple agencies. The Administration proposal would also create sub-agencies devoted to K-12 education, research/evaluation/administration, and enforcement. The latter would enforce both worker protections and civil rights laws that protect the nation's students. 

Congressional action is necessary: the merger of The Departments of Education and Labor needs Congressional approval. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) expressed enthusiasm for merging the Education and Labor Departments. The Ranking Democrat on the House Committee, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), said “The Department of Labor is no more equipped to oversee elementary education policy than the Department of Education is prepared to enforce standards for coal mine safety. The logic behind this proposal is painfully thin.” Senate HELP Committee Chair Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said “It’s always wise to look for greater efficiency in how our government operates, and I will study the proposal carefully.” Actual merger of Education and Labor Departments would need legislation passed by the House and Senate.

Thank you for supporting CSF and CASH efforts for federal investments in California’s students and school facilities.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Washington, D.C. Trip - USDA Meeting Udpate

April 25, 2018

Californians for School Facilities had another successful lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. last week. With the guidance of our Washington D.C. lobbyist Bob Canavan, CSF Chair Josh Jorn (Monterey County Office of Education), and CSF Vice-Chair John Dominguez, we met with United States Senate Finance Committee, our State Senators’ offices, as well as many other Senate and House of Representative offices.

Click here for information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that we received during our meeting with that Department’s staff. Below is a meeting follow-up memo from Bob Canavan.

 CSF will have our Fall Lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. in October 2018. Join us to lobby for more school facility financing options. 

-David Walrath, CSF Coordinator

USDA Meeting Follow-Up

CSF members had successful meetings on the Hill, carrying the message that schools are an important part of our national infrastructure. The USDA meeting could lead to some rural development possibilities for school infrastructure both on the grant and loan side.

 Click here for a list of Telecom and Broadband programs.

 USDA Rural Development Announcement for the Distance Learning Telemedicine Grant Program

RUS is accepting applications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program (PDF) through June 4, 2018. 

Remember the special consideration for STEM: special consideration points will be awarded for projects having the following primary purpose (up to 10 points):

    • Telemedicine projects which propose to provide treatment and counseling services for opioid abuse; and
        • Distance learning projects which propose to provide access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.

CSF should explore the Rural Development Facilities Programs and the Rural Development Loan Programs to assist with projects delayed in the state pipeline. CSF also should look further at how a connection can be to use the Water & Environmental Program, such as:

  • Water & Waste Disposal Loans & Grants
  • Water & Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees
  • Water & Waste Disposal Predevelopment Planning Grants
  • Water & Waste Disposal Revolving Loan Funds
  • Water & Waste Disposal Technical Assistance & Training Grants

There is a lot more at USDA Rural Development, and CSF should look at Rural Energy Programs. CSF definitely should reach out and thank the UDSA staff who met with us and also open a dialogue with the California USDA office. Click here for the USDA Rural Development California State and regional offices.

State Director

A new state Director was appointed in November 2017. Below is a short bio:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim Dolbow Vann is the State Director of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) in California. Appointed by the Trump Administration in November 2017, Dolbow Vann brings more than 20 years of experience and dedication to economic development and the improvement of rural life. Most recently, Dolbow Vann spent 11 years as a Colusa County Supervisor representing the first district. During her tenure she served as the Chair of Rural Counties Representatives of California, and led the charge on all federal and state issues that affect rural counties. In addition, for the past two years Dolbow Vann served as the Chair of Sites Reservoir Joint Powers Authority, leading the new public private partnership in creating an above-ground water storage facility in rural Colusa County. Dolbow Vann hails from a 6th generation farming family and is a lifelong California resident.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 1625)

March 26, 2018

Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 1625)

The current FY 2018 Continuing Resolution expired on Friday, March 23. Congress raced to complete an Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 1625) before the Friday deadline. Both the House and Senate passed H.R. 1625 Thursday, March 22.  

Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The House and Senate approved, and the President signed, the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill including final FY 2018 funding for education and other agencies. This Omnibus Appropriations bill is using increased defense and non-defense discretionary funding caps for FY 2018 and 2019. The non-defense discretionary caps are raised by $63 billion. Domestic programs including education in the ED, Labor and HHS section of the Omnibus bill are receiving additional funding under the higher caps without the prospect of Budget Control Act sequester cuts. 

Infrastructure

The Omnibus bill also provided additional infrastructure funding, but not in the directions called for in President Trump's proposals. The infrastructure road, airport, bridge and waterway investments in the Omnibus bill follow traditional Committee patterns. The bill (H.R. 1625) includes more funding for roads and airports – both Administration priorities – Congress did not follow details of the Administration's infrastructure initiative. 

The Omnibus bill did not address, or ignored, the Administration's proposals to:

      • Cut rail and transit spending to pay for the infrastructure initiative.
      • Require states and localities to provide more money to projects in order to qualify for federal spending.
      • Organize spending around three new grant programs.
      • Expand the use of tolling on interstate highways.
       

Rural Broadband

One area in the Omnibus that did coincide with the Administration’s initiative is in rural broadband. The Omnibus bill included $600 million in appropriated funding for a new pilot grant and loan combination program, administered by the USDA, to provide broadband to under-served rural and tribal areas. That is well below the $50 billion called for the Administration plan but is it a start. 

Congress will still consider the Administration’s Infrastructure Initiative. The national infrastructure needs demand more than one year of appropriations. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., called the Omnibus a "down payment" on the Administration plan. 

Californians for School Facilities and school facility advocates such as Rebuild America’s Schools continue to work with Congressional Committees and the Administration for school facility infrastructure as part of the long-term national infrastructure investment.  

Californians for School Facilities will work with the President and Congress to:

  • Advance federal investments in national and California’s school infrastructure.
  • Invest in school infrastructure with state and local partners.
  • Assist with grants, tax credit bonds, low-interest loans, infrastructure banks.
  • Help renovate, repair, modernize and build technologically advanced, energy efficient, modern schools and classrooms.
  • Advance student achievement, success and 21st Century workforce preparation.

 

Education FY 2018 Funding

Congress also did not follow the Administration’s FY 2018 budget proposals for education. Congress maintained or increased funding for many education programs eliminated in the President’s 2018 budget. Here are some of the details from the Labor, HHS and Education section of the bill. 

Education Increased $3.9 Billion

The Omnibus Appropriations bill operating with raised 2018 budget caps funding ED at a total of $70.9 billion a $3.9 billion increase. 

Major programs received modest increases:

  • Title I state grants increased $300 million, to $15.8 billion.
  • IDEA state grants increased $275 million, to $12.3 billion.
  • Impact Aid increased $86 million, to $1.4 billion.
  • Career and Technical Education state grants increased $75 million, to $1.2 billion.
  • Charter Schools increased $58 million, to $400 million.
  • Pell Grants the maximum increased by $175, to a total of $6,095.
  • Work Study increased $140 million, to $1.1 billion.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants increased $107 million, to $840 million. (The President’s 2018 budget proposed to eliminate program.)
  • TRIO programs increased $60 million, to $1.0 billion.

 Other program increases include:

  • Head Start increased $610 million, to $9.9 billion.
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant increased $2.4 billion, to $5.2 billion.
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants increased $700 million, to $1.1 billion – can be used for school counseling and mental health services, technology investments and STEM education.
  • After-School Programs increased $20 million, to $1.2 billion.
  • Teachers' Professional Development and class-size reduction maintained at $2.1 billion in grants.

Congress did not fund Secretary DeVos’ proposed FOCUS Title I voucher grant.

Secure Rural Schools

The Omnibus bill also extends and funds the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program administered in the Departments of Agriculture and Interior for FY 2017 and FY 2018. 38 Counties in California receive SRS funds.

School Safety

The Omnibus bill also includes The STOP School Violence Act, which repurposes a Justice Department program reducing school violence. The bill, H.R. 4909, funds training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety for $75 million annually also paying for physical improvements such as metal detectors, stronger locks and emergency notification technologies. $47 million is provided to programs within the Education Department and the Health and Human Services Department that address youth mental health, as well as social and emotional learning in schools.

Summary

The FY 2018 Omnibus bill finalizes funding for FY 2018. For Most Ed programs i.e. Title I, IDEA, Career and Technical education which are forward funded the FY 2018 funds will be for school year 2018-2019. The Federal fiscal year 2018 began October 1, 2017. The setting of final FY 2018 funding levels in March 2018 is very late.

 Based on the FY 2018 increases to Title I and IDEA, California should receive approximately $30 million more in Title I and $27.5 million more in IDEA funds. Given the services to California students that is a small increase. The higher budget caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019 should mean that FY 2018 sequestration cuts are not likely.

 -Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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Press Release from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch:
Senator Hatch and Bipartisan Senators Introduce Critical School Safety Legislation

March 5, 2018

Washington, DC - Today US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Udall (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Doug Jones (D-AL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018, legislation that funds school security improvements and invests in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens. 

The legislation authorizes the Department of Justice to make grants for the purposes of training students, school personnel, and law enforcement to identify signs of violence and intervene to prevent people from hurting themselves or others. In addition to prevention efforts, the legislation funds evidence-based technology and equipment to improve school security and prevent school violence. This includes the development of anonymous reporting systems, and common sense security infrastructure improvements. The legislation also provides funds for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams to help schools intake and triage threats before tragedy strikes.  

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BASIC Press Release: Coalition Launches to Support Federal Investment in Public School Facilities; Nonpartisan Group Seeks $1 Billion as Part of Infrastructure Bill

January 31, 2018

Linked below is a press release from the [Re]Build America's School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC), regarding launching the Coalition on federal funds.

"WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 29, 2018) - A group of nonpartisan organizations announced today the formation of a broad-based coalition to support fair federal funding of public school facilities as part of comprehensive infrastructure legislation..."

BASIC Press Release: New Coalition Seeks $100B for Public Schools in Infrastructure BIll - PDF

BASIC Website and News Page - Web Article

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State of the Union and School Infrastructure

January 29, 2018

Welcome to the second session of the 115th Congress and the January 30th State of the Union.

State of the Union and Infrastructure

The President is expected to discuss infrastructure in the January 30th State of the Union Address. The Administration’s broad infrastructure plan appears to call for a $1 trillion infrastructure program supported by a $200 billion federal investment. The difference would be made up through state and local programs with support for private development. The “Infrastructure Incentives Initiative” would use 50 percent of the unstated total funding amount to encourage “state, local and private investment in core infrastructure by providing incentives in the form of grants.” Eligible projects include surface transportation, airports, passenger rail, drinking water systems, hydropower projects, and a range of other types. Also included is a Rural Infrastructure Program, which would shift 25 percent of funds to transportation, water, energy and broadband projects serving “far-flung” communities that need federal subsidies to get built. 

On November 9, 2016, President-Elect Trump said, “we are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports , schools and hospitals.“

 The President and Congress should invest in school infrastructure to advance student success and achievement and to generate local jobs.

School Infrastructure Legislation

On Capitol Hill, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) with 108 House co-sponsors and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with 14 Senate co-sponsors are sponsoring comprehensive bills investing $ 100 billion in school infrastructure: The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) and The School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674) authorize grants and bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure.

Congressman Scott and 155 House colleagues wrote to the President on January 17, “In addition to upgrading our bridges and roads, we must also invest in the critical infrastructure that affects every city and town in the nation—our public schools.” (Click here for Scott letter to the President

Senators Reed, Brown and Murkowski and 22 Senate colleagues joined as signers of an infrastructure letter to the President calling for the investments in public schools as part of the critical infrastructure of every city and town in our nation. (Click here for Reed/Brown/Murkowski letter to the President)

 The following Senators co-signed the Reed/Brown/Murkowski letter: 

Jack Reed (RI)

Lisa Murkowski (AK)

Sherrod Brown (OH)

Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

Patty Murray (WA)

Chris Van Hollen (MD)

Margaret Wood Hassan (NH)

Cory A. Booker (NJ)

Bob Casey (PA)

Ron Wyden (OR)

Dianne Feinstein (CA)

Richard Blumenthal (CT)

Benjamin L. Cardin (MD)

Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

Mazie K. Hirono (HI)

Catherine Cortez Masto (NV)

Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Tina Smith (MN)

Christopher A. Coons (DE)

Edward J. Markey (MA)

Tammy Baldwin (WI)

Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Michael Bennet (CO)

Amy Klobuchar (WI)

Patrick Leahy (VT)

Californians for School Facilities thanks these House Members and Senators and joins in supporting investing in school facilities, a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure.

Tax Credit Bonds

As we all know we ended last year very concerned that the tax bill “terminated” tax credit bonds, including QZABs. QZABs, QSCBs and other tax credit bonds assisted states and local school districts finance the renovation, repair, and modernization of thousands of schools and classrooms in every state since authorized in 1997.

Tax Extenders

As the tax conference report was passing, Senator Hatch and 5 Republican colleagues from the Finance Committee introduced the Tax Extender Act of 2017 – a tax extenders bill which includes a two-year extension of QZABs. This is a positive development. Senator Hatch hoped to, but was unable to, put the extenders bill on the last Continuing Resolution. Senator Hatch is interested in early action on tax extenders this session. The Tax Extenders bill may open the door for us to extend and revive QZABs.

 Tax Extender Act of 2017: S.2256

Below is the provision extending QZABs for 2016-2017 

SEC. 204. EXTENSION OF QUALIFIED ZONE ACADEMY BONDS. 

(a) In General.—Section 54E(c)(1) is amended by striking “and 2016” and inserting “2016, and 2017”. 

(b) Effective Date.—The amendment made by this section shall apply to obligations issued after December 31, 2016. 

CSF will work with the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee for action on Senator Hatch’s Tax Extenders bill and the extension of the QZAB program as we all wait for action on larger infrastructure legislation. 

Californians for School Facilities is working for modernizing California’s nation’s school facilities and infrastructure to support the Scott and Reed Brown bills in Congress to invest in our nations school infrastructure.  

Thanks to all who support Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) work to build, renovate, repair and modernize California’s schools and classrooms to advance student achievement and success.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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Support for School Facilities

January 19, 2018

The Education Week article excerpt linked below, by Andrew Ujifusa, shows that there is still support for federal government assistance to help improve school facilities.

Education Week Blog: Lawmakers Press Trump to Spend on Public School Infrastructure - PDF

Education Week Blog: Lawmakers Press Trump to Spend on Public School Infrastructure - Web Article

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Tax Bill Conference

December 18, 2017

The Tax Bill Conference Report takes the House position to terminate tax credit bonds such as QZABs, QSCBs, QCEBs, and advance funding. The Conference Report provided no explanation or rationale for the House provision to terminate the cost effective and efficient QZAB and tax credit bond programs and advance bond funding. QZABs, QSCBs and other tax credit bonds have helped states and local school districts finance the renovation, repair, and modernization of thousands of schools and classrooms in every state since authorized in 1997.

The final tax bill (HR 1) includes Senate language on private activity bonds, which are issued by public-sector authorities to give private entities access to tax-exempt financing for projects with a public benefit. Buyers of the private activity bonds get a tax exemption on the interest.

The tax bill sets a limit of $10,000 for state and local taxes and caps mortgage tax deductions at $750,000, which will affect home owners and state and local governments. These provisions will have an impact in California as a state with higher state taxes and real estate values. The bill also includes savings account tax credits to finance private school tuition and home schooling. The tax cut bill will impact California students, communities and schools.

The bill is projected to add $ 1.4 trillion to the national deficit over ten years, which will lead to serious budget implications for domestic program funding and entitlements.

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote this week on the tax bill. California has 53 of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives. All California Democrat members voted “No” when H.R. 1 was approved by the House. Three California Republican members voted “No”: Congressmen McClintock, Issa and Rohrabacher. Senators Feinstein and Harris voted “No” when the Senate passed the tax bill. The negative impact of the tax bill warrants a “No” vote by California members.

Californians for School Facilities continues to work to build and modernize California’s and our nation’s school facilities and infrastructure.

Thanks to all who support Californians for School Facilities and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing efforts to build, renovate, and modernize California’s schools and classrooms to advance California’s student achievement and success.

 -Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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House Tax Cut Bill: Repeal of Tax Credit Bonds

November 3, 2017

House Tax Plan - House Republican leaders and Ways and Means Committee Chair Brady released a tax cut plan that includes deep tax cuts for business, modest savings for the middle class, and a nearly $1.5 trillion increase in annual deficits over the next ten years.

Repeal of tax credit bonds, including QZABs, are among the many tax deductions and credits eliminated to help finance the extensive tax cuts. 

SEC. 3603. REPEAL OF TAX CREDIT BONDS  - The tax reform package calls for the repeal of tax credit bonds effective December 31, 2017. This would apply to Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs), Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs), and new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (New CREBs).

 SEC. 3601. TERMINATION OF PRIVATE ACTIVITY BONDS.

QZABs, QSCBs, QECBC - Cost effective QZABs and QSCBs have been used by school districts in every state to renovate, repair, build and modernize thousands of schools and classrooms. QECBSs and CREBs assist efficient and cost-effective energy services to school facilities.  

Californians for School Facilities will continue to work for the extension and improvement of cost-effective tax credit bond programs which have been used by school districts across California to renovate, repair and modernize schools and classrooms.

 House Tax Plan - H.R. 1 is 429 pages of legislative text revising the tax code. Republicans leaders want to pass the plan on party line votes by Christmas. The House Ways and Means Committee begins mark-up on Monday, November 6, scheduled to last 4 days. It would be remarkable to complete a complex tax code rewrite in that short timeframe.

 Corporate Tax Cuts and Deficit - The costly tax cut plan proposes to slash the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The immediate and permanent reduction would cost about $1.46 trillion over a decade. Republican leaders and the President argue this will trigger robust economic growth, luring companies to invest domestically to bring profits home from overseas. 

Republicans leaders said most Americans would benefit from lower rates, a doubling of the standard deduction, and increase in the child tax credit. A family of four earning $59,000 a year would save $1,182 in taxes, according to GOP talking points.

 Many Deductions Eliminated - Democrats argue middle-class taxpayers will be hit with a tax increase because multiple deductions and credits are eliminated or reduced, including: elimination of deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, repeal of deductions for medical expenses and student loan interest payments, the repeal of personal exemptions and alimony payments. Mortgage deductions are limited to the first $500,000 in mortgage debt, down from the current limit of $1 million. Deductions for second homes are eliminated.

 Other Proposed Tax Cut Bill Changes:

  • Personal exemptions would be repealed.
  • Workplace Flexible Spending Accounts for dependent care, including children under the age of 13, would be repealed.
  • Education tax credits would be consolidated into a unified American Opportunity Tax Credit; deductions for student loan interest, tuition and related expenses and other education deductions would be repealed.
  • 'SALT' deductions – state and local income and sales tax deductions would be eliminated, and property tax deductions capped at $10,000 per year.
  • Capital gains tax on home sales capped.
  • Charitable deductions would be reserved, but with changes including repeal of special rule allowing 80 percent of the value of donated tickets for athletic events.
  • Eliminates miscellaneous deductions, including for gambling losses, alimony payments, medical expenses, tax preparation fees, and moving expenses.
  • Retirement savings – existing retirement savings incentives, such as pre-tax 401(k) contribution limits, would be maintained. The ability to re-characterize Roth IRA conversions to avoid the tax hit would be repealed.
  • Alternative Minimum Tax would be repealed.
  • Estate tax would be eliminated after six years, but the existing $5.6 million exemption (adjusted annually for inflation) per spouse is doubled immediately with the current 40 percent rate of tax unchanged through 2022. Gift tax parameters would not change but tax rate would be reduced to 35 percent.

Opposition Criticizing the Plan - "They're not doing tax reform," said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), "They're doing tax giveaways to the wealthy and the powerful." Vocal opposition is growing from the small business and real estate sectors.

 QZABs - Californians for School Facilities is making the case for QZABs and tax credit bonds as the Ways and Means Committee begins its mark-up and as the Senate Finance Committee prepares for Senate consideration of the tax cut bill.

 School Infrastructure - Tax cut legislation is the dominant legislation now. Congress also must complete work on the expiring CR and FY 2018 appropriations bill in December. Californians for School Facilities will work for the extension and improvement of the QZAB program as tax cuts.

 CSF Fall Trip - CSF leaders met in Washington with the California delegation and Committee Staff of Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the sponsors of comprehensive school infrastructure bills: The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) and The School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674), calling for grants and tax credit bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure. These bills make a strong case for cost effective investing in school facilities as a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure.  

Thanks to all who support the work of CSF and CASH to build and modernize California’s schools and classrooms.

 -Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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Republican Leadership Releases Draft Tax Bill

November 3, 2017

As part of the ongoing tax reform process, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives released its draft tax bill. Below is a link to a section-by-section description of the bill.

 Of particular note for our CSF membership is that the bill would eliminate tax credit bonds (see section 3603) after 2017. This elimination likely includes Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and other tax credit bonds used by our CSF members. The draft tax bill also seeks to eliminate advance refundings.  

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to mark up the bill beginning next Monday, November 6.

Draft Tax Bill - Section by Section Summary

-Constantine Baranoff, CSF Treasurer

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CSF Fall Lobbying Event
October 2017 - Washington, D.C.

On October 25-27, 2017, Californians for School Facilities (CSF) will be holding a Fall lobbying event in Washington, D.C. to urge Congress and the Administration to pass infrastructure funding legislation – including funding for public school infrastructure. Join us and make sure your issues are heard!

Why October?

The stars look to be aligning with a possible tax cut and infrastructure funding proposal. Part of the tax reform discussions is lowering the corporate tax rate and providing incentives to bring back more than $2 trillion that United States firms have in overseas accounts. CSF believes there will be a strong effort to take some of the tax revenue from the returned $2 trillion for tax cuts and some for infrastructure.

We believe that the real discussions will be in October because September will be consumed in the Senate with the review and approval of the President’s appointees to executive branch positions and judgeships, while both the House and Senate will be working on appropriations bills and raising the debt ceiling – both of which need to be done by the end of September.

To accomplish these goals, the House and Senate Republican leadership probably will need votes from some Democrats. The Democratic leadership wants infrastructure funding – including schools.

They all want a victory they can claim before the 2018 mid-term elections. The stars could be moving into alignment for a limited victory for all parties.

Who Will We Lobby?

Our Washington, D.C. Lobbyist Bob Canavan will target appointments with the decision makers. CSF believes this will include the House and Senate fiscal committees, possibly Executive Branch staff, as well as leaders in the California Congressional Delegation.

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California Fires, Hurrican Aid, Budget Resolutions, Tax Reform, and School Infrastructure

October 12, 2017

California Fires - The East Coast is shocked by news reports of the devastating fires in Sonoma, Napa, Placer, Orange and other California counties. Fires have been burning all summer and destroying hundreds of thousands of acres in Modoc, Siskiyou, Plumas and other California counties as well as in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Utah and South Dakota. There is more national attention now because the current fires are causing fatalities, destroying thousands of homes and disrupting communities. Schools and hospitals are damaged. Undamaged school facilities are shelters providing food services to residents who have lost their homes.

 Schools Facilities as Disaster Relief Centers - This has been a frequent message from CSF in Washington meetings with members of Congress, staff, and Administration officials while making the case for federal support for school facilities. CSF always explains the essential community service role school facilities play during state and local disasters. This week we graphically see school facilities providing much needed disaster assistance in the tragic Sonoma and Napa County fires. 

Texas, Florida Disaster Relief, Continuing Resolution, and Debt Ceiling (H.R. 601) - In September the Administration proposed, and the House approved, a $7.8 billion disaster aid package as a first step in federal disaster aid assistance with Texas and Florida Governors, estimating the disaster needs in $150-180 billion range. After the House passed the initial hurricane aid package, the President unexpectedly negotiated with Congressional Democratic leaders. The result was Senate passage of a larger bill containing more Hurricane Aid, a Continuing Resolution (CR) and an extension of the nation’s debt ceiling. The Senate voted 80-17 to pass $15.25 billion in emergency spending for hurricane relief as well as a debt limit suspension and a short-term CR. H.R. 601 then headed back to the House, where it passed on a 316-90 vote. All 90 NO votes came from Republican members.

 H.R. 601 - The CR and debt ceiling extension last through December 8.  The short-term 3 month FY 2018 CR continues funding for education programs such as Title I and IDEA at current 2017 funding levels. The initial Disaster Aid package included $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, $7.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants and $450 million for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program. 

Disaster Aid II - This week the House will to take up another disaster aid package to provide additional aid for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The $36.5 billion measure adds about $7.2 billion to the Administration’s request. The package provides $16 billion in flood insurance debt relief and $18.67 billion to a disaster relief fund operated by FEMA; $1.27 billion in food aid for Puerto Rico; and $576.5 million to help combat wildfires in California and other western states. It is billions of dollars below additional requests called for by lawmakers from hurricane and disaster affected states and territories. Some of those requests could be added when the bill moves to the Senate next week. 

CSF will be in Washington later this month working with the California delegation, the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, Members of the House and Senate and other Committees as Congress undertakes tax reform and considers infrastructure. CSF will continue to carry the message that school facilities play critical roles in disaster relief to Congress and the Administration as they assist states and damaged communities recover and resume local education programs and services for students in safe and well-functioning schools as quickly as possible.

 Tax Reform and FY 2018 Budget Resolution - The Administration and Congress are eager to start legislative work on tax reform. Congressional talks about tax reform will become more serious after Congress adopts a FY 2018 Budget Resolution with reconciliation instructions. Reconciliation provisions are necessary to open the door for passage of tax reform in the Senate with a simple 51 vote majority.  Congress is finally getting close to completing work on a FY 2018 Budget Resolution with the House and Senate nearing completion on separate Resolutions.

 Budget Act Cap - The short-term Continuing Resolution moves final FY 2018 funding decisions to December. Congress and the Administration need a bipartisan agreement to increase FY 2018 budget caps for defense and non-defense domestic programs to pass funding bills including Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Bipartisan budget negotiations will have to happen in December to address FY 2018 budget caps and FY 2018 funding including education, to extend the debt ceiling and to avoid a government shutdown. 

House FY 2018 Budget Resolution - The House Budget Committee passed a Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 71) that violates current budget law caps on defense spending by $72.5 billion. The House approved H. Con. Res. 71, which lays the budgetary ground work with reconciliation instructions for tax reform. The proposed House Budget Resolution would require Congress to cut at least $203 billion from entitlement programs over 10 years.

 Senate Budget Resolution - The Senate Budget Committee adopted a FY 2018 Budget Resolution with a one vote margin making room for tax reform by authorizing an increase of $1.5 trillion in debt over ten years. The Administration endorsed the proposed Senate budget plan which is said to balance the budget in 10 years, producing a relatively small surplus of $197 billion in fiscal 2027. The plan includes optimistic revenue projections and undefined spending cuts expected to produce trillion dollar savings assuming entitlement program cuts of almost $4.3 trillion with another $534 billion cuts from discretionary programs over 10 years. An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office projects that under the Senate plan the entire federal budget would actually show a deficit in 2027 of $424 billion - even after accounting for economic growth. The Senate Budget Resolution does include reconciliation provisions that would increase annual deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade to accommodate tax cuts. The full Senate is expected to vote on the FY 2018 Budget Resolution the week of October 16th.

 The House and Senate will have to resolve the differences between the different Budget Resolutions. Despite conservative objections the Senate version is expected to prevail even though it projects an increase of $1.5 billion in the national debt to pay for a tax cut package over ten years.  

Administration Tax Reform Proposal - The Administration finally released its “tax reform” package which focuses primarily on tax cuts. The President’s plan proposes to reduce the number of tax rates while doubling the standard deduction for most Americans; increases the child tax credit by an unspecified amount; eliminates the alternative minimum tax; and gets rid of many itemized deductions, save for those for mortgage interest and charitable giving and some others. Critics argue the plan gives greater tax relief to the top taxpayers.  

On the business side, the plan calls for cutting the top tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. The plan would also bring the top “pass-through” business rate down to 25 percent from its current level of 39.6 percent. That is the top rate that sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations (meaning many small businesses) pay. It would also encourage businesses to bring back profits stashed overseas with a special rate cut. 

Economic Growth - The President argues that the plan will be paid for by economic growth. The United States has been growing at about 2 percent a year lately, below the historic norm. The President maintains the tax plan plan will produce growth of 3 percent – or more. 

Many economists project modest growth. Estimates range from 2.1 percent to 2.25 percent. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the nine-page framework would equate to a $2.2 trillion tax cut, with $5.8 trillion lost to lower rates and other changes, and another $3.6 trillion recouped by eliminating deductions.

 Offsetting/Paying for Tax Cuts - The proponents of the President’s tax cuts plan to offset the massive tax rate cuts for individuals and businesses by eliminating scores of deductions and credits across the tax code. Major ideas that have floated as revenue raisers have run into resistance, such as a House GOP border adjustment proposal to tax imports and exempt exports which would have raised an estimated $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That proposal has lost support. A proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local property taxes is meeting strong resistance, as is a proposal to repeal the corporate interest expense deduction. The tax committees might consider keeping those deductions around in limited form.

 Tax Extenders - Many tax extender provisions including, Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) and energy tax credit bonds will be in play for extension or potential elimination to offset costs as the tax reform packages are assembled.

 Tax Reform Timeframe - The Administration will push hard for passage of its tax reform/cut proposal between now and December. Congressional Republicans share the Administration’s objective to cut taxes. The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have to balance the goals of tax cuts/reform with what changes can be made to the tax code at what cost in revenues and resulting deficits. A critical question is what will be the greater priority cutting taxes or limiting the deficit.

 Administration Infrastructure Initiative - The Administration has called for investing $1 billion in our nation’s infrastructure under the following principles:

1. Make targeted federal investments.

2. Encourage self-help. Many States, tribes, and localities have stopped waiting for Washington to come to the rescue and have raised their own dedicated revenues for infrastructure.

3. Align infrastructure investment with entities best suited to provide sustained and efficient investment. The Federal Government provides services that non-Federal entities, including the private sector, could deliver more efficiently.

4. Leverage the private sector. The private sector can provide valuable benefits for the delivery of infrastructure, through better procurement methods, market discipline, and a long-term focus on maintaining assets.

The Administration has not provided detailed specifics for the President’s $1 trillion infrastructure package. The White House spending proposal would, “provide an infrastructure plan to support $1 trillion in private/public infrastructure investment,” including injecting $200 billion into transportation projects over 10 years, with the goal of creating $1 trillion worth of overall investment. Overall, the Administration plans to reach its $1 trillion target through a mix of new federal funding, incentives for private sector investment and expedited projects. The Administration plan also aims to speed up project delivery by eliminating or reforming regulations that can slow down projects.  

School Facility Needs Nationwide - The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the need for $4.6 trillion in infrastructure investments over 10 years, with more than half of that sum currently unfunded. 

The 2013 Center for Green Schools Report State of Our Schools - The Report estimates that schools are facing $271 billion in deferred maintenance costs and that the cost to bring schools into good repair and to address modernization needs is $542 billion over the next ten years. These numbers are clearly beyond the capacity of state and local community resources.

 California School Facility Needs - Estimates are that $40 billion is required to build California’s new schools and to modernize old schools.

 Infrastructure Investment Alternatives - The Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a resolution outlining the progressive alternative plan calling for investing $2 trillion over ten years, which it estimates would employ 2.5 million Americans in the first year to rebuild transportation, water and energy systems while also focusing on unsafe schools, homes and public buildings.

 School Infrastructure Legislation - CSF appreciates the leadership of Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in introducing comprehensive bills: The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) and The School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674) call for grants and bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure.

 Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) - Key components of The Rebuild America’s Schools Act include investing $100 billion to create over 1.9 million jobs by addressing critical physical and digital infrastructure needs in schools. The bill would:

  • Create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff.
  • Leverage federal, state, and local resources for an overall investment of $107 billion, creating over 1.9 million jobs based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs.
  • Develop a comprehensive national database on the condition of public school facilities; such a national database currently does not exist and would provide much-needed insight into the condition of our public schools.
  • Expand access to high-speed broadband to ensure that public schools have the reliable and high-speed internet access they need for digital learning.  

The School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674)

  • Provides competitive grants for school repair, renovation, and construction. These grants focus assistance on states and communities with the greatest financial need, encourage green construction practices, establish equitable access for public charter schools, contain state matching criteria, and outline permissible criteria for spending. Projects also require the use of American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products.
  • Provides $30 billion for Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds (QSIBs), $10 billion each for FY 2018 through FY 2020.
  • Expands Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) for use on school construction.
  • Requires the GAO to report on projects carried out under the within two years after enactment with periodic updates.
  • Creates a comprehensive study of the physical condition of public schools at least once every five years.

CSF October Washington Trip - CSF members will be traveling to Washington on October 25-27 to meet with the California Congressional delegation, Congressional committees and staff to make the case for investing in school facilities as part of our nation’s infrastructure to advance student achievement and success.

CSF will be working with the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, Senators Reed, Brown, Congressman Scott and other Committees as Congress undertakes tax reform and considers infrastructure.

Thanks to all who support the work of CASH and CSF to build and modernize California’s schools and classrooms.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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School Infrastructure, Hurricane Disaster Aid/Continuing Resolution/Debt Ceiling, and NAFIS Report

September 8, 2017

Congress is back this week. Members of Congress began the week facing the need to increase the national debt ceiling, no Budget Resolution, the beginning of Fiscal Year 2018 on October 1 without a single completed FY 2018 appropriations bill, the pressing need to address disaster relief for Texas and Louisiana, another Hurricane heading toward Florida, and calls for tax reform. The Administration further complicated the Congressional agenda by rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program affecting many young immigrants, unless Congress acts within six months.

School facilities and school programs in Texas and Louisiana are greatly affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. School openings are delayed. Damages to school buildings and facilities are still being assessed in Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and other Texas and Louisiana communities. The Administration proposed, and the House quickly approved, a $7.8 billion disaster aid package as a first step in federal disaster aid assistance. Texas Governor Abbott estimated the total disaster could be in the $150-180 billion range. 

After the House passed the initial hurricane aid package, unexpected negotiations at the White House produced an agreement between President Trump and Congressional Democratic leaders leading to Senate passage of a larger bill containing more hurricane aid, a Continuing Resolution (CR) and an extension of the nation’s debt ceiling. The Senate voted 80-17 on Thursday, September 7 to pass $15.25 billion in emergency spending for hurricane relief as well as a debt limit suspension and a short term CR that both last through December 8. The legislative package (HR 601) then headed back to the House, where it was expected to pass despite opposition from the Republican Study Committee’s steering committee. 

The package (H.R. 601) includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, $7.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants and $450 million for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program. 

Senators voting NO on the relief package were: Sens. Bob Corker, R-TN; Steve Daines, R-MT; Michael B. Enzi, R-WY; Joni Ernst, R-IA; Deb Fischer, R-NE; Jeff Flake, R-AZ; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C; Charles E. Grassley, R-IA; Ron Johnson, R-WI; James Lankford, R-OK; Mike Lee, R-UT; John McCain, R-AZ; Jerry Moran, R-KS; Paul; Jim Risch, R-ID; Ben Sasse R-NE; and Patrick J. Toomey, R-PA. 

The bill returned on Friday to the House, which earlier this week overwhelmingly passed a straight hurricane relief bill without the CR and debt ceiling provisions. The expected opposition to the new provisions from conservative Republican members was offset by support from Democratic members when the House passed the hurricane aid, CR, and debt ceiling bill on a 316-90 vote. All 90 NO votes came from Republican members. 

The short-term 3 month 2018 CR continues funding for education programs such as Title I and IDEA at current 2017 levels. 

CSF and others will now work with Congress and the Administration to assist states and damaged communities as they work to resume local education programs and services for students as quickly as possible. A critical aspect of the effort will be ensuring that school facilities are safe and functioning. Federal disaster assistance should be available to support school facility repairs.

NAFIS School Facility Report: The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) recently issued a report: The Foundations for Learning: The Facilities Needs of Federally Impacted Schools (click here to view the report). Data from the NAFIS Report survey identified a need of over $4.2 billion worth of ready projects that could modernize and improve the health and safety conditions of school facilities in federally connected school districts. These data cover 218 out of over 1,200 Impact Aid-recipient school districts. California schools districts are among the 218 responding NAFIS districts. Many of these school districts do not have the financial resources to address these school facility needs. Federally impacted school districts generally have fewer local resources for operational purposes due to the presence of tax-exempt Federal property. 

The NAFIS Report states, “School facilities matter. Research shows that school facilities directly impact students’ ability to learn – including academic achievement and truancy – the health of students and staff, and school finances. Shifting legal requirements and educational expectations also require school districts to invest in facility upgrades such as digital learning, early childhood and vocational programs, regulation related to health, the environment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state or local initiatives such as class size reduction, and increased security measures.” 

The NAFIS Report concludes, “School facilities matter. The status quo is inequitable and unsustainable. This survey data include over $4.2 billion worth of ready projects that could modernize and improve the health and safety conditions of school facilities. These data cover 218 out of over 1,200 Impact Aid-recipient school districts. As much need as is represented in this report, it represents the underinvestment of only a fraction of federally impacted school districts nationwide. Many essential construction projects are on hold due to lack of funds. The additional long-term costs of deferred maintenance are well documented. More troublesome than the economics of deferred maintenance is the impact on students. Additional funding is required to address the urgent and significant backlog of emergency and modernization needs for federally impacted schools. 

The Federal Government has a unique obligation to increase its commitment to students and taxpayers in these communities. As school districts are forced to wait to address outdated, failing, and unsafe facilities, the potential short- and long-term harm – in terms of exposure to unsafe learning environments and lost opportunities to build 21st century skills – is significant. Federally impacted schools and the students they educate deserve more.” 

Thanks to NAFIS for The Foundations for Learning: The Facilities Needs of Federally Impacted Schools report and the information it provides about the school facility needs in federally impacted school communities. The NAFIS Report highlights the difficulty federally connected school districts face in addressing school facility needs. NAFIS school district financial difficulties are compounded by the connections to federal properties. 

School Facility Needs Nationwide: The 2013 Center for Green Schools Report, State of Our Schools, estimates that schools are facing $271 billion in deferred maintenance costs. The report estimates that the cost to bring schools into good repair and to address modernization needs is $542 billion over the next ten years. These numbers are clearly beyond the capacity of state and local community resources.

California estimates are that $40 billion is required to build California’s new schools and to modernize old schools. 

School Infrastructure, Tax Reform: With the unexpectedly quick action on hurricane relief, short term CR and debt ceiling extension, Congressional talks about tax reform may become more serious as the Administration also calls for action on infrastructure this fall.  

School Infrastructure Bills: CSF appreciates the leadership of Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in introducing comprehensive bills, The Rebuild America’s Schools Act (H.R. 2475) and The School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674), calling for grants and bonds to finance the renovation, repair, and construction of public school infrastructure. 

CSF in Washington, D.C.: CSF members will be traveling to Washington in October to meet with the California Congressional delegation, Congressional committees and staff to make the case for investing in school facilities to advance student achievement and success as part of our nation’s infrastructure. CSF will be working with the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, Senators Reed, Brown, Congressman Scott and other Committees as Congress undertakes tax reform and considers infrastructure.

Thanks to all who support the work of CSF and CASH to build and modernize California’s schools and classrooms.

 -Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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School Building Improvement Act Introduction

July 24, 2017

This week, Senators Reed (D-RI) and Brown (D-OH) are introducing the School Building Improvement Act of 2017, which will provide a total of $100 billion in direct grants and school construction bonds over 10 years to help fill the $38 billion annual gap in school facility capital construction need. A 2013 Center for Green Schools Report, State of Our Schools, estimates that nationally schools are facing $271 billion in deferred maintenance costs. The Report estimates that the cost to bring schools into good repair and to address modernization needs nationally is $542 billion over the next ten years.  This is beyond the capacity of state and local community resources.  Federal support to help address school facility infrastructure improvements in California and every state is critical.  

The School Building Improvement Act would also create an estimated 1.9 million jobs, based on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that each $1 billion spent on construction creates 17,785 jobs. 

Californians for School Facilities is among the organizations supporting the School Building Improvement Act, which will be investment in school facilities in California and every state and our nation’s infrastructure.   

Key features of the School Building Improvement Act include: 

            - Providing competitive grants for school repair, renovation, and construction.  These grants focus assistance in states and communities with the greatest financial need, encourage green construction practices, establish equitable access for public charter schools, contain state matching criteria, and outline permissible criteria for spending.  Projects also require the use of American-made iron, steel, and manufactured products.

            - Providing $30 billion for Qualified School Infrastructure Bonds (QSIBs); $10 billion each for FY 2018 through FY 2020.

            - Expanding Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs) for use on school construction and raising the QZAB amount to $1.4 billion per year FY 2018-2020.

            - Requiring the GAO to report on projects carried out under the Act within two years after enactment with periodic updates.

            - Creating a comprehensive study of the physical condition of public schools at least once every five years.

            School Building Improvement Act 2017 - Full Bill Text

            School Building Improvement Act One-Pager

Senators Reed and Brown are asking fellow Senators to join as Senate co-sponsors.  CSF will contact Senators Feinstein and Harris to join with Senators Reed and Brown as co-sponsors.

 Thanks to all who support Californians for School Facilities and CASH efforts to build, renovate, repair and modernize Californians schools and classrooms.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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School Infrastructure Bills in the Senate and House

June 13, 2017

Below are links to the draft bill text and a summary of Senator Reed’s Senate school infrastructure bill, tentatively titled, The School Building Improvement Act of 2017. The CSF delegation met with Senator Reed’s staff during our Washington, D.C. Advocacy trip in May.  

The School Building Improvement Act of 2017 will provide a total of $100 billion in direct grants and school construction bonds over 10 years to help fill a $38 billion annual gap in school facility capital construction needs. The bill focuses assistance on states and communities in the greatest financial need by providing a grant program and School Infrastructure Bonds, and improvements to the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program. The bond provisions are similar to the bond provisions in the Rebuild America’s Schools Act

Congressman Bobby Scott and other House Members held a well-attended briefing last week for House staff on the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. The Rebuild America's Schools Act of 2017 would provide $70 billion in federal grants for school infrastructure upgrades and another $30 billion in tax credits to support school construction and to high-speed broadband internet access as well as school construction. A summary of the House legislation estimates the bill would create 1.9 million jobs. 

The Institute of Education Sciences estimates that schools nationally would need $197 billion to be brought up to good condition. 

The introduction of The School Building Improvement Act in the Senate combined with the Rebuild America’s Schools Act in the House will put two strong school infrastructure bills in the mix when Congress begins discussing infrastructure investments later this session. 

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

School Building Improvement Act - Summary

School Infrastructure Bill Draft Text

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President's 2018 Budget Proposal - Infrastructure Initiative

May 24, 2017

The President's budget propsoal, released this week, included the infrastructure plan linked below. The expectation is that real details, amounts, funding and purposes will be done by congress later this year or possible early next year. This is a start, but in its current form, not particularly useful for K-12 public schools.

Infrastructure Initiative Fact Sheet

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CSF Update: School Infrastrucutre Investment

April 25, 2017

Funding 2017
Congress is returning from a recess this week. Despite efforts by House and Senate Leaders and the Appropriations Committees, a bipartisan spending deal is needed by Friday when the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution funding government agencies expires.  

Congress must pass either an Omnibus Appropriations bill or another Continuing Resolution to avoid a partial government shutdown and to fund government programs for the remainder of the federal fiscal year through September 30.  While no one in Congress is calling for a government shutdown, negotiations have been complicated by Administration efforts to secure additional funding for defense programs and partial funding for a southern border wall.  Budget talks continue this week with a very short deadline even as the Administration calls for another effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and plans to announce a tax reform plan.  It will be a major task for Congress to put together an Appropriations package to fund government agencies including Education and programs such as Title I and IDEA this week.  

Congress may have to pass a short-term one or two week Continuing Resolution to allow enough time to negotiate the final FY 2017 Omnibus funding bill or Continuing Resolution through September 30.  Once Congress completes work on FY 2017 funding, it will begin work on a FY 2018 Budget Resolution, and start work on tax reform which may lead to more specific discussions of infrastructure. 

National School Infrastructure Investment
CSF supports a national investment in our nation’s infrastructure, including our nation’s public schools.  The national need to modernize schools is extensive.  The 2013 Center for Green Schools Report, State of Our Schools, estimates that schools are facing $271 billion in deferred maintenance costs. The report estimates that the cost to bring schools into good repair and to address modernization needs is $542 billion over the next ten years.  This is beyond the capacity of state and local community resources. 

Federal investments through grants, tax credit bonds, low interest loans, and infrastructure banks to support state and local efforts to renovate, repair, modernize and build schools and classrooms will provide technology advanced, energy efficient, modern schools and classrooms to help prepare students for the 21st century workforce.  At the same time, school facility infrastructure investments generate local construction jobs.  

Successful Federal investments in school facilities include: Emergency School Repair grant program, Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, and Build America Bonds.   

A School Renovation program passed in the Clinton Administration and administered by the Bush Administration at the Department of Education provided approximately $1.2 billion to help communities make emergency school repairs and renovations.  This urgently needed initiative helped states and thousands of local schools fix leaky roofs, correct faulty plumbing, heating, and electrical systems, and address other dangerous health and safety concerns in our schools, such as the presence of lead paint and asbestos in the classroom.  

Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) Program:  Provides tax credits in lieu of interest. QZABs are used for renovation and repair of schools and have been used successfully by school districts in California and every state since 1998.

Qualified School Construction Bonds: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased QZAB authorization and created Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) with more flexibility than QZABs and significantly more authorization.  QSCBs were used by school districts across the county to finance thousands of projects to build, renovate and repair schools, generating construction jobs in local communities. 

Build America Bonds: Build America Bonds were also authorized by the ARRA for use by state and local governments.  In some states, Build America Bonds were used effectively to finance school facilities.  

Recent Grant Legislation 

The 21st Century Green High Performing Public Schools Facilities (SMART JOBs): In the 114th Congress, Representative Maloney (D-NY) sponsored HR 5157 the 21st Century Green High Performing Public Schools Facilities (SMART JOBs) Act.  This bill requires the Department of Education (ED) to make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools. 

School Building Fairness Act: In the 114th Congress, S.1505 sponsored by Senator Schatz (D-HI) provided grants through the Department of Education for the repair, renovation and construction of public elementary and secondary schools.

 Rebuilding America’s Schools Act: In the 114th Congress, Representative Rangel (D-NY) and Senator Brown (D-OH) sponsored the Rebuilding America’s Schools Act which permanently extends the QZAB program, increases the QZAB authorization level to $1.4 billion and allows for construction, renovation and repair projects.  A local contribution requirement is reduced from 10% to 5 % which is critical for small and rural communities.  The Rebuild America’s Schools Act will be re-introduced in the 115th Congress. 

Government Building Private Activity Bond: H.R. 960 introduced in the House by Congressman Kelly (R-PA) would allow tax-exempt private activity bond financings for “qualified governmental buildings,” including: elementary and secondary schools, state college or university facilities used for educational purposes, public libraries, courts, health care facilities, public safety facilities, and government office buildings. The bill assumes that a governmental entity has ownership under federal income tax law, which may differ from state law title ownership. H.R. 960 provides a special $5 billion volume cap that would require issuers to submit an application to the Treasury Department for approval.  

California Investment in School Facilities – Proposition 51
In 2016 California voters approved Proposition 51, an initiative to invest $9.8 billion in bonds to assist the financing of new school facilities, modernizing school facilities, career and technical education programs, and community college facilities in California communities.  Additional federal support will supplement the resources provided by Prop 51 to meet California’s facility needs, which far exceed the resources of Prop 51. 

115th Congress Infrastructure efforts are beginning in the 115th Congress
The Administration has announced infrastructure as a priority.  Senate Democrats led by Minority leader Schumer (D-NY) are proposing a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, including $75 billion for schools that they say will create 15 million jobs.  House Democrats are working on a comprehensive bill to focus on school facilities including grants and bonds.

 CSF looks forward to joining efforts to advance federal investments in our nation’s infrastructure, including school facilities. Federal investments in our nation’s schools with state and local partners through grants, tax credit bonds, low interest loans, infrastructure banks and other financing initiatives will help renovate, repair, modernize and build schools and classrooms to provide technologically advanced, energy efficient, modern schools and classrooms. Most importantly, it will help California’s and our nation’s students achieve and succeed in the 21st century workforce while also generating local jobs.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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CSF Update: Senate School Infrastructure

January 24, 2017

Senate Democrats announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild the nation’s schools, roads, airports, bridges, seaports, V.A. hospitals, and broadband network. 

Senator Schumer, speaking for his Democrat colleagues said, “Each day, too many students attend school in buildings so decrepit the pipes leach lead into their drinking water…” 

The Senate Democrats initiative would invest $75 billion in public school modernization through a formula program. The initiative also would also expand the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program. 

Strengthening America’s Public Schools $75 billion – Creating 975,000 New Jobs

        - Invest $75 billion to jumpstart public school modernization. The funds would be distributed on a formula basis to the public schools with the greatest and most urgent needs. Funding will ensure that school construction and modernization projects can get underway quickly without placing an undo financial burden on local taxpayers.

- Also reauthorize the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program and expand its use to help public schools located in economically-distressed and high-poverty communities invest in their school districts.

Californians for School Facilities has been working, and will continue to work, with the Senate sponsors of the Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure. CSF also thanks Senators Schumer, Wyden, Brown, Nelson, Sanders, Leahy, Carper, Cantwell and other members for leading this effort.

Additional details to follow when they become available.

-Bob Canavan, CSF Federal Legislative Advocate

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Article: Why the Definition of Infrastructure Should Include Public Buildings

The following article from ConstructionDIVE (Dec. 1, 2016) gives strong reasons why schools should be part of any comprehenisve infrastructure program: Read the Full Article.

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Senate Finance Committee Extends QZABs

The Senate Finance Committee approved a $95 billion tax extenders package extending 52 expired tax provisions for 2 years, including the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program...click here to read the full update.

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CSF Letters in Support of Bigger, Continuous, and Expanded
Federal Bonds

July 2015: Rebuilding America's Schools Act, S. 1753

              -CSF Letter to Finance Committee Chairman Hatch

             -CSF Letter to Finance Committee Ranking Member Wyden

May 2014: QZAB and QSCB Expansion and Extension

            -CSF Tax Extenders Support Letter

             -179D CSF Support Letter

November 2013: Rebuilding America's Schools Act

- H.R. 1629

- S. 1523

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Californians for School Facilities (CSF) was formed in 1998 to advocate for federal funding for school facilities and to educate Congress and the Administration regarding the importance of clean, safe and modern schools to benefit student academic performance and the workforce of tomorrow. Since that time, CSF has been successful in advocating for more than $1.35 billion in 2009 and $1.26 billion in 2010 in Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) funding, $1.4 billion in Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) funding in 2009 and 2010 and $400 million in 2011, and $100 million for emergency repair and renovation for California schools.

CSF is now urging Congress to extend the QSCB and QZAB programs to pass school emergency repair legislation and requirements. CSF continues its involvement in issues related to E-Rate, the Americans with Disabilities Act, special education facilities and the resolve to carry out related federal requirements.

Your membership in CSF ensures that your district or business will be the first to hear of federal funding opportunities. We play an active role in discussions with the United States House and Senate Education leaders to continue and expand federal funding for California’s school facilities.

Contact

David Walrath
Executive Director

Phone: (916) 441-3300
Address: 1303 J Street, Suite 520, Sacramento, CA 95814
E-mail: dwalrath@m-w-h.com