Kermit was right. Going green is difficult, and in the case of green schools, its also expensive. The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act represents Congresss latest effort to pump money into environmental-efficiency projects.
The bill, passed June 4 in the House by a vote of 250-164, would set aside more than $20 billion over the next five years to help modernize existing schools and to start construction on new eco-friendly buildings. Indiana Rep. Baron Hill co-sponsored the bill, saying it would channel $111 million dollars into Hoosier schools. The money would be used to help to eliminate crumbling schools, and it would offer a healthier, more energy-efficient place for thousands of teachers and students to work and play.
Even though the initiative seems like a win-win vote for the environment and education, Bush has threatened a veto, and we agree.
Dont get us wrong, we love the bills sentiment: making the environment a priority through productive investment that could stimulate the economy. Great. Channeling money into needy public school systems. We couldnt agree more. But the thought of the government mandating how individual school systems should handle repairs has us shaking in our green, public-school-loving boots.
With caveats for Davis-Bacon fair wages and American steel, the bill panders to labor interests and traffics in feeble attempts to promote American companies that drive up the price of construction. In addition, by committing the federal government to supporting school maintenance into the future, the bill sets a precedent for federal involvement in local issues. By wetting its hands with public education an issue that has historically been reserved for the states and localities the bill makes a pronounced step toward more big government that makes us nervous.
Moreover, we have watched as good-natured No Child Left Behind programs floundered under insufficient federal funding. If Congress really wants to invest in education, we say why not put that $20 billion toward the existing programs that we all agree could use it?
Congress is right to make energy efficiency and education priorities, but we think The 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act leaves much to be desired. If we are to make strides toward improving the state of our education system and environment, federal interest and investment is paramount. Yet, the key is to earmark federal funds for general causes, not to bog down bills in provisions and details that tie the hands of local officials and drive up costs.
We think Congress should focus on the education initiatives it has already started before diving into expensive, string-laden bills. Congress is on the right track with this act. It just needs to let go and leave the fine-tuning up to the states and the local school boards. Until then, were siding with Kermit.