PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed on Wednesday unveiled a bill that would direct $100 billion in additional federal funding to repair and rebuild schools nationwide, including in Rhode Island.
The proposed Rebuild America’s Schools Act would create competitive grants which local school districts could request for projects. Its other provisions include authorizing $30 billion in federal bonds through 2021-22 and reinstating another type of bond for school construction.
Last November, Rhode Island voters approved borrowing $250 million to tackle a growing backlog of repairs in schools across the state. But Reed noted that amount is still far less than the official estimate that $627 million is needed to make all schools “safe, warm and dry.”
“The scope of this crisis is more than states or communities can address on their own,” he said in a statement.
Reed is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, giving him extra influence during debates over federal spending. A House version of his bill is sponsored by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Virginia.
A number of other Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill, including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, but no Republicans were listed as backing it as of Wednesday.