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Letter to the Ways and Means Committee Supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act

January 21, 2009

Dear Representative:


On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our strong support for American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act (H.R.598), scheduled for mark-up in the Ways and Means Committee this week.  We are very pleased that the proposed package includes the investments in public school construction, renovation and repairs urgently needed to help all students develop 21st century skills.

America’s schools are in desperate need of repair and renovation.  Across the country, students learn in overcrowded classrooms with peeling paint, leaking roofs, and faulty wiring.  Some schools hold classes in temporary trailers, converted closets, and hallways.  Too many students attend schools that lack basic electrical and telecommunications equipment necessary for connection to the Internet or the use of new education technologies.  Students attending schools in less than adequate condition face direct impacts on academic achievement, as well as significant dangers to personal health and safety. 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act financing for public school construction, renovation and repair programs will help meet the over $250 billion school facility needs in states and local communities by providing resources to build repair, renovate and modernize America’s schools. Equally important, its enactment will stimulate the creation of thousands of new jobs in the construction industry and among the many construction industry suppliers, ranging from architects and engineers to roofing contractors and other workers who design and build our nation’s schools.

School districts in every state can get projects underway quickly if federal financial resources are available to help underwrite the project costs. Funding and financing for public school renovation and repair programs will provide federal support for the renovation and repair of schools, while leaving decision making at the local level ensuring that these projects can begin quickly.

Implementation of the proposed $22.4 billion Qualified School Construction Bond program can be accomplished at a cost to the US Treasury of $8.8 billion over ten years.

We urge your support for this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy