Current News and Updates

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Registration is OPEN for the Fall Event!

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

Click here to Register

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.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to lobby the federal government to help meet our California school facility financing needs.

Click Here to Register

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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, 2107

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