Dem Lawmakers Move Forward With Obama’s Jobs Plan — FAST
Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation to renovate U.S. schools the same day that President Obama touted the benefits of such modernizations at a school in Ohio.
Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a key part of the jobs agenda President Obama laid out last week by introducing the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act, which would direct nearly $25 billion toward modernization, renovation, and repair of U.S. schools.
Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced the FAST Act in the Senate as Obama traveled to Brown’s home state of Ohio. The FAST Act is part of the legislative package the president outlined in a campaign-style speech at a school in Columbus
Following his televised address last week to a joint session of Congress, Obama and his fellow Democrats have pivoted hard towards job creation as the nation’s unemployment rate sits above 9 percent and the economy teeters on a double-dip recession.
Brown’s legislation, which was also being introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), provides 40 percent of the funds to the 100 largest high-need school districts in the nation. The remaining 60 percent is split among state departments of education to administer through competitive grants, according to an announcement by Brown’s office.
“The FAST Act is about putting Ohioans to work by ensuring that our children learn in a safe, productive environment. Too many school districts – that have already been forced to cut budgets and lay off teachers – cannot afford physical improvements to schools. Meanwhile, an increasing share of their budgets – and Ohioans’ property taxes – is devoted to heating drafty schools,” Brown says. “The FAST Act would help states and local school districts make critical repairs to existing facilities or supplement their current maintenance efforts. This bill is about jobs – but it’s also about our education and our nation’s future.”
The bill would create nearly 250,000 jobs for construction workers across the country, all the while lowering schools’ energy and maintenance bills, updating facilities so U.S. children can compete in the 21st century, and, ensure they are spending their days in safe and healthy buildings, according to labor unions
which back the legislation.
Specifically, the FAST Act would provide funds to school districts to:
- improve air quality with updates to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;
- remove mold and reduce energy costs with roof replacement and repair;
- support technology, mechanical systems, and electricity with an electrical system modernization;
- reduce water consumption, eliminate lead in water, upgrade bathrooms and plumbing;
- eliminate allergy and asthma triggers, contain or eliminate asbestos, and repair plaster and painting;
- replace windows to save on energy usage; and
- install solar panels, wind generators, and geothermal or other clean energy generators.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.