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Senate Democrats Pitch $75 Billion Plan to Repair and Build Schools

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 24, 2017 1 min read
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Seven senators have pitched an infrastructure improvement plan that includes $75 billion in federal money to “rebuild” the country’s schools.

The “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure and Create 15 Million Jobs” released on Tuesday is short on details, but states that the $75 billion for U.S. public schools would create 975,000 jobs and create a “State-of-the-Art Environment” for students.

“This addresses the urgent need for public school modernization funds, which the Secretary of Education can distribute on a formula basis to the public schools with the greatest and most urgent needs within economically-distressed and high-poverty communities,” says a statement accompanying the plan. The $75 billion for schools is part of the $1 trillion the blueprint would spend on everything from shoring up roads and bridges to railroads and buses over 10 years.

The plan was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, along with Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Carper of Delaware, Maria Cantwell of Washington state, Bill Nelson of Florida, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. All the senators are Democrats except Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats.

“Each day, too many students attend school in buildings that are crumbling beneath them, millions of Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet, and local governments are faced with the impossible choice of allowing water and sewer systems to deteriorate further or raising local taxes on already struggling middle-class families,” Schumer said in the statement.

The plan also includes $20 billion to expand broadband and create 260,000 jobs in the process. The senators said this plan would expand “high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas.” They also want to upgrade the nation’s 9-1-1 emergency response system.

President Donald Trump raised the issue of school infrastructure on the campaign trail, saying that the country had spent significant money on infrastructure in Iraq but couldn’t build schools for its own students. And he’s expressed at least a general interest in ramping up federal investment in infrastructure, although how that interest might translate remains unclear.