Merkley Announces Bill to Create Jobs Through Renovation of Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley has cosponsored new legislation that would create jobs through the modernization and repair of schools around the country. The FAST Act could create or save 3,300 Oregon jobs through the modernization, renovation, and repair of Oregon schools. As outlined in the American Jobs Act, Oregon could receive up to $253,000,000 in funding for K-12 schools. 

“This bill is going to create jobs, save money for schools that have burdensome energy costs from heating drafty schools, and most importantly, give our children safe, better places to learn,” Merkley said. “There are currently a million construction workers unemployed and $270 billion worth of maintenance needed at our schools. We can wait and do those repairs later at a far greater cost, or do them now and get those workers back to work. The choice for jobs and fiscal responsibility is clear.”

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;
  • install solar panels, wind generators, and geothermal or other clean energy generators.

It is estimated that for every $1 billion invested in school construction between 9,000 to 10,000 jobs are created. According to the Blue Green Alliance, modernizing our schools can save $100,000 a year in maintenance costs – enough for two new teachers, 200 more computers, or 5,000 textbooks. The average U.S. public school building is 40 years old and conservative estimates of deferred school maintenance and repair nationwide total at least $270 billion.

The FAST Act has already been endorsed by the National PTA, Council for Great City Schools, Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO, National Construction Alliance II, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America, and the International Union of Operating Engineers.