Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act

May 13, 2009
Floor Speech


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   Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act.

   My friend from Texas, I think he is still my friend, my friend from Texas would have to admit that we already have a sucking sound and that is we have been sucked into waste after waste after waste, which is costing us a tremendous amount of money, and this is preventible in the 21st century. I want to thank Congressman Chandler for sponsoring this critical legislation, and Chairman Miller, of course, for his leadership on the entire issue.

   Most of the students in this country attend a school that was built over half a century ago; in my district it is even worse than that, complete with leaky roofs and faulty electric. You can't just shove this off to the side saying it is trivial and unimportant. This is outdated technology which is costing us millions, in fact billions, of dollars.

   This legislation would provide the dollars and grants for fiscal year 2010 to local school districts so that they can make the repairs, provide the modernization, and green their facilities so that our kids can learn in safe, modern, well-equipped and environmentally friendly school facilities. Many of these schools are not safe, and the States don't have the money, local communities don't have the money to make them safe. This is not acceptable to anybody, regardless of which side of the aisle you are on.

   The legislation builds on the principles of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will create 100,000 new jobs in making these places safer, in making them more cost efficient.

   Joe Zarra, the superintendent of the Nutley School System in my district, has launched an ambitious plan to green the town's elementary schools. He already started a couple of years ago, using cutting-edge technology to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and the school district's utility bills. That is critical.

   I agree with my friend from Texas that the health issue is a critical issue. The patient is in the emergency room, particularly with the numbers out today on Medicare and Medicaid. But this too is a very important issue.

   H.R. 2187 will help school districts across the country undertake similar projects and ensure that our children learn in modern environments where they can truly reach their potential.