Durbin Calls for Passage of Key Provisions from American Jobs Act

Highlights Proposal to Modernize Public Schools with a $1.1 Billion Investment in Illinois

DECATUR, IL–(ENEWSPF)–October 24, 2011.  In order to give the lagging economic recovery a boost, Congress needs to pass critical elements of the American Jobs Act that would invest in school, infrastructure, and transit modernizations while putting people back to work, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said at Johns Hill Magnet School in Decatur, Illinois.

While passage of the American Jobs Act was blocked earlier this month by a Republican-led filibuster, Democrats in the U.S. Senate will try to pass individual elements of the American Jobs Act in the coming weeks, including a provision that would support school modernization. The legislation will be fully paid for by an income surtax on millionaires and billionaires.

Durbin noted the school modernization provision in the American Jobs Act would provide $25 billion for critical facility and technological upgrades at public schools across the nation. In Illinois, the measure would invest $1.1 billion in school modernization, supporting as many as 14,500 jobs.

Like school districts across Illinois, the Decatur public school system has struggled to make costly, but needed, infrastructure improvements. Johns Hill Magnet School faces many of the same challenges as the other aging schools in the system. The school lacks proper “post-Columbine” security measures, does not meet modern accessibility standards, as the school has many stairways but no elevators, and is challenged by asbestos-containing heating pipes, floor and ceiling tiles, which poses a danger to students and staff if not managed properly and adds substantial time and expense to many small repairs. The school also lacks air conditioning, which resulted in temperatures rising to 100 degrees or higher in some classrooms during the early weeks of the school year. Approximately 70 percent of schools in the Decatur public school system lack air conditioning and relying on heating systems nearly two decades beyond their expected lifetime.

“Schools across Illinois and the country are facing budget cuts that have forced them to postpone desperately needed upgrades to their facilities and consider painful teacher layoffs. This component of the American Jobs Act will help modernize schools across the country, renovating old buildings and supporting new science labs and internet-ready classrooms so that our children are learning in the best possible environment. Not only would this piece of the legislation support as many as 14,500 jobs in Illinois, it would help schools ensure that students growing up in this difficult economy do not see their education suffer as a result,” Durbin said.

The American Jobs Act was proposed by President Obama in order to help create jobs and spur economic development by supporting small businesses, investing in education and infrastructure, creating pathways for the unemployed to get back to work, and offering tax relief for middle class families.

Durbin also noted other key provisions of the American Jobs Act he supports passage of in the coming weeks:

  • Promoting the hiring of unemployed veterans by offering a tax credit of up to $5,600 for a company that hires a veteran who has been unemployed for six months or longer, and up to $9,600 if the veteran has a service-related disability.
  • Offering payroll tax relief for employees – giving the average Illinois family a tax cut of around $1,640 – and for employers – cutting payroll taxes in half for 260,000 small businesses in Illinois.
  • The Rebuild America Jobs Act, which provides direct and immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation systems. The proposal would invest $50 billion in highway and transit upgrades nationwide, including $1.6 billion in Illinois that would support more than 20,000 jobs. The bill also establishes a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion to leverage private and public capital that will help fund a broad range of infrastructure projects.
Source: durbin.senate.gov